On Jake Lloyd and the Scars of Bullying

I took no joy this weekend at the news of Jake Lloyd’s arrest.

Lloyd was arrested after a car chase and charged on several counts including reckless driving and resisting arrest. I don’t know what the exact facts of the case are. I certainly don’t condone his behavior. Lloyd has largely been a recluse in the last 15 years and, one interview aside the facts of his life aren’t well known.

What I do know is how the internet reacted. To my lack of shock, Lloyd once more endured a series of jokes at the expense of these app based pundits who pulled out references to Episode I left and right. They were the nice ones. The worst ones once more dredged up their tired cries of how Lloyd’s performance “destroyed their childhoods.” And the absolute worst actively celebrated the downfall of someone who has openly admitted to emotional trauma.

Well, let me quote my friend Mason: “The irony that these nerds say their childhood was ruined while they ruin someone else’s childhood (Lloyd’s) is staggering.”

In the lone interview he’s given, Lloyd openly admitted that he was harassed nonstop at school for his role. He quit acting due to the pressures he faced. He went as far as to destroy his Star Wars memorabilia and refuses to watch the film today. Not exactly a happy ending.

Lloyd’s story is an unhappy one and it’s one that strikes a chord with me. I’ve openly admitted my own experiences with bullying. My experiences were limited to a single city. The world didn’t loudly mock me and the things I did in 1997 aren’t still held against me. Lloyd has endured something unbelievably awful and it’s only died down, never stopped.

That doesn’t excuse what he did, mind you. There’s no good reason to act out and cause damage. He deserves to be in jail. Many of us who were bullied don’t act out in this way. I hope he faces whatever punishment he gets.

But I understand.

I understand the scars bullying leaves on victims. Bullying destroys your self esteem. It shatters your ability to trust others. Everybody is suspicious in your eyes after years of the treatment. Anxiety disorders are common after the fact. Depression is a lock. Self destruction? It almost inevitably follows for many. Sadly literal self destruction is common.

Even knowing these things, you can be surprised by the effects it leaves. Four years after the experiences, I was still writing almost exclusively about it. To this day there’s a deep melancholia about my writing when I write on childhood. I still at times wonder if I’ll be found out as the person I was made to feel I was back in 1997. It’s a painful feeling.

I can’t imagine being in Lloyd’s shoes for that reason. I fear I’m still the person who got mocked. He’s never stopped being reminded he is. I sincerely hope as he’s going through this, he gets the help he clearly needs. Nobody should ever have to endure what he’s faced. I hope for the best for him.

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2 thoughts on “On Jake Lloyd and the Scars of Bullying

  1. Pingback: The Adult Bully | A Flickering Life

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