Good luck finding those first few steps away from the group that bullies you. They may think they are the whole world but they are not even a drop in the ocean.
I never went back for reunions at my grade school-high school town but a couple of the worst tormentors in grade school have contacted me on-line and apologized and let me know that it is a guilt they have lived with and that they aways kew what was happening was wrong. That means the world to the little girl who still hides inside me even now.
Why do I think it is not all bullying? Because, having been bullied, and yes, at times having been a bully, I know some of the differences between true bullying and just ordinary bad moments.
I believe that a lot of times when a student claims that they are being bullied, they are really just having one of those sad, frustrating days where kids learn how to get along with other people, where they practice the give and take and learn the empathy and co-operation skills necessary to live as part of a society. It may bring tears when your "Best Friend" suddenly tells you that she wants to play with someone else, It may hurt your feelings when your classmates laugh at the clothing you chose for the day, and it may make you mad if the kid eating his flaming hot cheetos at lunch refuses to share. However, those are not bullying.
To be bullying, it has to be purposefully targeted at you, and it will probably be ongoing and is usually not just one person because the true bully likes a cowed audience of followers along for the entertainment. It will probably hit at your weakest area, bullies are good at seeing what those are.
True bullying makes you believe everyone else sees the reason you were targeted. It makes you believe there is no escape, that everyone is on the side of those tormenting you, and that those who you could ask for help won't be able to do nothing. It isolates you and makes you feel like asking for help will only increase the abuse that you must somehow deserve.
Not everyone who bullies you is the primary instigator. Some will just be almost as weak as you and be afraid that if they speak up the attack will turn on them. It is hard for anyone to willingly volunteer for that kind of abuse and it takes courage and the ability to see that bullies are afraid of groups. There is strength in numbers if other people can join together, which is precisely what the bully wants to avoid.
In grade school I started first grade not really knowing how to relate to other kids. I had a lot of grandparents, great-grandparents, great-Aunts and Uncles, but no siblings until just before I started school. I was severely pigeon-toed and the Dr. ordered dance classes but I failed drastically at dancing when I could barely walk. I was freckled and loud and tried to argue with the teacher who was teaching us to spell wrong, when I had started school already knowing how to read. The class was using a phonetic program that taught that school was spelled "Skwl" and I knew better. Cat was not Kat no matter what the teacher said. Not a good candidate for ITA learning!
In grade school, I had a battle every day. My things were stolen and destroyed or passed around from child to child with great drama and screams of "Dixie Fleas! Pass it on!" They pretended to spray my chair with disinfectant before anyone else would sit there. I came to believe I really did stink. I started not doing homework just so I could be kept after school so the kids who threatened to beat me up as I walked home would get bored and be gone.
When I was chased to my house and tried to hide between the screen door and the locked inner door as 4 older girls threatened to kill me, my mom drove up. In sweet voices they told her that "we don't know what is wrong. We came by and she was just crying." Mom thanked them for trying to help and I claimed I had just had a horrible head-ache.