One of the main themes present in the book “The Story of My Face”, by Leanne Baugh, is bullying. Bullying is one of the biggest issues present in our societies. A study done by the University of British Columbia in 1999 stated that about 72% of students in grades 8 to 10 have observed bullying at school at least once in a while, while 64% of respondents said that bullying is considered a normal part of school life. Keep in mind that these are statistics of 2 decades back, with the rise of technology, a new form of bullying was born, known as cyberbullying.
According to one study, about 25% of kids between 12-15 have witnessed cyberbullying (Ipsos Reid, 2011). Throughout the book, there were many things that Mason did in an attempt to get revenge on the main character, Abby, for cheating on him, and although cheating on Mason was wrong, I believe that the things Mason tried to do to get revenge are completely unjustified, and nobody deserves to go through what Mason did to Abby.
Abby went through a rough period of time, spending almost a year in hospital beds after her encounter with the bear in the woods, and I would personally not wish that on anybody, even enemies, especially with the bullying that she faced as a result of her deformed face. Humiliating Abby, framing her for a huge crime, and attempting to assault her and almost killing her are all things that prove that Mason is not dealing with his anger in an acceptable manner, his actions rather suggest that he belongs in jail.
First of all, I believe that Abby and Mason’s relationship was toxic from the start, he was obsessive, taking control of her actions. He went mad when she like any guy’s posts, and he was even jealous when she spent time with her girlfriends. He also We also find out later in the book that Mason spent most of junior high school in juvie for the things he did. “He set fire to his neighbor’s garage, threatened a teacher, and stole a computer from school.” Knowing about his history pointed out to me that Abby’s bullying situation might escalate drastically. Most of what Mason did at the beginning was verbal bullying, and as harmless as it may sound, verbal bullying can have disastrous effects on the victim, and it happens more often than we might think. Throughout the book, you can see how Mason comes up with more evil situations every time. He starts with cyberbullying and sending hurtful texts. He sends Abby texts with comments such as “Don’t feel bad, don’t feel blue, Frankenstein was freaking ugly too. and he adds to that by publicly humiliating her. He writes the words “bear bait” on her locker and later begins to call her that when even she passes by. This draws more attention from her peers to her face as they start questioning what might have happened. Mason also make inappropriate sexual comments. At one point, he says “At least there is one good thing about your body, it isn’t as ugly as your face.” Mason later threatens to harm Abby saying “There’s nothing you can do to make it right. But don’t worry, you’ll pay for it.” All of these things fall under the category of verbal bullying. Stopbullying.Gov describes Verbal bullying is saying or writing means things. It includes teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, and threatening to cause harm. For these reasons, I believe that Mason’s words towards Abby were unacceptable.
As the plot of the story progressed, Abby’s bullying situation escalated. Alongside the verbal bullying, Mason also started socially bullying Abby. He put her in embarrassing situations in front of her friends. In one incident, he tried forcing one of Abby’s friends to ask her to be his prom date. This was humiliating for Abby because this situation only highlights how unattractive she is, it makes it harder for people to socially accept her new disfigurement and it puts her friend in a bad spot as well as he is left not knowing what to do. Mason also spreads a rumor about Abby being a drug dealer at the school, however, he doesn’t leave it at that, he gets the police involved as well. This incident was capable of damaging her reputation if her friends hadn’t interfered, and her future would have been affected negatively if she had that accusation registered on her record. Mason also had a role in urging others to turn against Abby. He made her lose her old “friend” Dax, who started supporting Mason in his treatment towards Abby. Mason also convinced people using his cruel ways to sign a statement saying that Abby has been supplying them with drugs. All these are different elements that fall under the classification of social bullying. Social bullying is often harder to recognize because the bully often does not reveal themselves as the doer, however, in Mason’s case, it can clearly be recognized because he isn’t trying to remain hidden. Social bullying as described by Bullying.co.uk is often carried out behind the back of the person who is being bullied. This type of bullying is also known as covert and relational bullying as it is designed to humiliate and damage someone socially. It includes lying, fake rumors, and spreading gossip encouraging others to turn against someone leaving someone out constantly and encouraging others to do the same as well as damaging someone’s social reputation or social acceptance. I still have to put an end to this paragraph but I have no idea what to write rn, so Imma just comes back to it later.
As the story was reaching its peak, Abby’s situation with Mason went to the next level. He started to get physical. According to Bullyingstatistics.org, Physical bullying is using one’s body and physical bodily acts to exert power over peers. It can take many forms including hitting, pushing, tripping, slapping, spitting, stealing, or destroying possessions. It may also cross the line into sexual harassment or sexual assault. The first incident was when Abby was enjoying her time at the party, Mason came, and starting taunting her, and soon after it got physical. He got ahold of her arm and said “you’re not going to say no to me now, Abby. But it’d be way better for me if there was a bag over your ugly head.” At this point in the book, Mason had gone too far in crossing the line, not only he was verbally hurting her, but he even tried assaulting her. This is a crime that has a large punishment in the Canadian Justice System. “Everyone who commits a sexual assault is guilty of an indictable offense and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years” corresponding to the Government of Canada’s Justice Laws Website. Mason also destroyed one of Abby’s possession when he chucked her phone into the woods when Abby retrieved her phone, the screen was shattered and the phone barely functional. After all that he’s done, we would think that Mason stopped there, but he didn’t. He was determined to “make her pay”, and he did so by tying her up and putting a bag over her head, then he locks her up in the custodian’s closet at a time where no one will be around that area. This was the most extreme of all situations, because, given the circumstances she was in, she was bound to lose oxygen at one point which would have eventually led to her death if her friend Liam hadn’t seen the whole incident. Attempted murder is an extreme offense according to the Government of Canada’s Justice Laws Website, “Every person who attempts by any means to commit murder is guilty of an indictable offense and liable (in the case of a first offense,) five years [imprisonment].” Mason’s actions throughout the book eventually led him to be sentenced to jail time, and that in itself is the biggest evidence that he was the threat and not the victim.
In conclusion, I strongly believe that Mason is guilty of being a bully of almost all forms. The way he treated Abby involved verbal bullying, social bullying, and physical bullying. Some may argue that Abby deserved that treatment, because it was her fault to begin with, however, I believe not, because I don’t think that anyone deserves to go through what Abby has gone through. I think that the bear attack is even “revenge” for anyone because it will have a lifelong impact on her. The way Mason behaved throughout the book lead me to think that he fits the traits of a sociopath. Abby’s friend Grace made the same observation as well. She said “He’s not right in the head. I’m pretty sure he meets every trait of a sociopath.” Although Abby was at fault, the way Mason dealt with the situation was not appropriate in any given situation. Bullying is, unfortunately, a big problem in our society, and it’s great that this book shined a light on the issue so that people would be more aware of the issue and how to handle it.