For those of us who have been bullied before, we know what a lasting impact that can have on us.
But the bullying would feel worse if the bully targeted a loss, like someone who has passed away, reasoned the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor No-Year4995 had been bullied when he was young, especially after his sister lost her battle with cancer and passed away.
When the bully attempted to apologize years later, the Original Poster (OP) was reluctant to accept.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing an apology from a kid who used to bully me?”
The OP was bullied when he was a child for about three years.
“I (13 male) got bullied from ages 6 to 9 by a kid (who is now 15), let’s call him A.”
“A bullied a lot of kids. But he bullied me the most.”
“When I was 7, my sister lost the battle with cancer and passed away.”
“My parents and I were very sad about it, but A decided it was a good reason to bully me even more.”
“He would constantly say that it was my fault my sister passed away and things like that.”
“When I was 9 I got taller, so I wasn’t an easy target anymore, and then the bullying stopped.”
The OP felt reluctant when his former bully approached him years later to apologize.
“4 years later when I was with a friend at the train station, I saw A again.”
“He came up to me, saying that he wanted to apologize for bullying me.”
“I said that I can’t forgive someone who bullied me about my sister’s death.”
“He then denied the fact that he bullied me about that and asked me why I made it up.”
“My friend said that he shouldn’t lie and that everyone from our old class knows that A did that.”
The former bully did not take this well.
“A then got very mad and shouted at me, saying that he didn’t do that and that he was the victim.”
“I then said that he can f**k off and that I will never forgive him for what he has done.”
“A then ran away, crying with rage and humiliation, since everyone at the train station was looking at him.”
“A’s mother scolded me and said that I shouldn’t be so harsh. She said that A can’t help it because he has ‘anger issues.'”
“I told her that having ‘anger issues’ isn’t an excuse to bully someone about losing their sister.”
“She then got upset and ran to A, still with tears in his eyes.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes here
Some reassured the OP that he didn’t have to accept the apology.
“You’re not required to accept an apology. Forgive and forget culture protects abusers but doesn’t do much for the victims.” – Aunty_Fascist
“Forgiving people has two functions. The first is to tell the person that you acknowledge they have apologized and that you have moved past their actions. This guy really wasn’t sorry because he denied the worst part of his bullying. So it wasn’t a true apology.”
“The second is to heal yourself and detach from the pain that your bully caused. You should do that on your own time.”
“Either way, NTA.” – HortenseDaigle
“I was bullied too, and one of my classmates joked about my dad dying when I was 13. The joking was tragic to me, but I’m sure it was so meaningless to him that he very quickly forgot!”
“I’m now 60 years old and I still hate that guy! NTA.” – Krazzy4u
“It wasn’t meaningless to the abuser, the abuser goes out of their way to take the deliberate abusive actions because they get satisfaction and pleasure out of it.”
“This is exactly why you don’t have to forgive abusers, they know what they are doing is painful to their victim, and they do it anyway.”
“All this forgiveness bs just benefits the abusers.” – TimeDue2994
“Can’t say that the old bully was truly sorry. Seems more like he just wanted to not feel like he had done anything wrong.”
“Sounds like the bully’s mom is part of his problem. She doesn’t want her little angelic baby to feel bad either.”
“It’s not your job to make the bully feel better. Just take care of processing your own hurt to that you don’t let the past eat at your spirit. Do what you feel is best to help you let go of your own pain.” – swillshop
“I feel very badly for you, both for losing your sister to cancer and for being bullied.”
“I also was bullied very badly growing up, and never got an apology. It’s really affected me.”
“I will say this: as a Christian, God wants us to forgive others. We’re supposed to. Therefore, I would encourage you to find forgiveness, but honestly, that does not mean that you have to forget or ever have anything to do with this bully.”
“Also, ‘having anger issues’ is a really stupid excuse. It’s not even an excuse.” – CrochetBeth
Others agreed and said it wasn’t a genuine apology if the bully forced the OP’s acceptance.
“The best you could have done was acknowledge the apology. But you aren’t required to accept it.”
“Honestly, it doesn’t sound like he was really apologizing. Maybe his mother was forcing him to, and maybe he will get in trouble for not getting you to forgive him.”
“But that is not your problem to deal with. It’s not your job to protect him from the consequences of his own actions.” – cutepUppy1205
“He refused to fully acknowledge his sins, and he got angry when the apology wasn’t accepted (showing that he thought he was owed an acceptance).”
“100% he was not apologizing at all.” – ShiningConcepts
“If it was anything close to a sincere apology, it was purely motivated by his desire to address his own regrets and make himself feel better over the harm he caused.”
“But he also straight-up denied the reality that apparently a whole class of kids remembers.”
“So it wasn’t even a proper apology. He did the equivalent of saying, ‘Sorry I left a burn mark on your couch,’ when he actually set the whole house on fire. The mother is a piece of work, as well.” – letstrythisagain30
“It’s not like the guy actually apologized really; sounds like he’s largely in denial and so is his enabling mother.”
“You owe these bad people nothing.” – MelonSegment
“A real apology involves taking full responsibility for what you did wrong, not picking and choosing which parts of the wrongdoing to acknowledge. A vague ‘sorry’ statement does not equal a complete and genuine apology.” – liver_flipper
“If he had actually changed and grown since bullying you, he would have learned that when you are apologizing for something, it doesn’t mean the person you’re apologizing to, has to accept the apology.”
“If you force someone to accept an apology, are you actually sorry, or do you want a clean conscious?”
“It’s good to own up to our mistakes and apologize. However, he proved to you when he started lashing out at you after you did not give him the forgiveness he wanted, that he most certainly has not changed.”
“The apology was about him, not you.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“NTA.” – stop_spam_calls
“I have had former bullies reach out and apologize. They were genuinely remorseful, and the reasons they did it were ingrained in them.”
“Not one of them dismissed or denied what they did. They also knew that I didn’t owe them forgiveness.”
“This kid is not remorseful. I honestly don’t know why he would apologize in the first place since he either doesn’t know or care unless it was to paint OP as the bad guy.”
“NTA. Cut A out.” – ansteve1
A few had some things to say about the former bully’s mother.
“This doesn’t even sound like an actual apology. When you pointed out the worst thing he did, he got mad and defensive instead of accepting responsibility, so you’re extra NTA for refusing to accept it.”
“If his mother speaks to you again, you should tell her she is the one who should be ashamed for the bad job she’s doing raising her kid.”
“I’m sorry about your sister.” – megZesq
“NTA. Some things are simply unforgivable and that is a life lesson everyone learns sooner or later.”
“A’s mom is an enabling piece of work.” – Tiny_Willingness_686
“He’s not sorry. His reaction proves that.”
“Like mother, like son. His mom sounds horrid, too.”
“Sorry for the loss of your sister.” – mummamai
While the OP was thrown off by his bully’s mother confronting him about not accepting her son’s apology, the subReddit insisted he didn’t have to.
As some mentioned, a genuine apology would not require forgiveness, or even a reaction or response. It would simply require space to speak the apology into existence.
Since the OP’s former bully couldn’t accept those standards, he likely wasn’t ready to give a genuine apology.