17 May ”Look at me now, I’m the boss”
”We want to see Marwa Karim dead” translated the name of the Facebook group that was started by Marwa Karim’s perpetrators. Several times she stood by the railway station ready to take her own life. But there came a turn.
Marwa Karim is 20 years old and in December 2014 she received an award for being a role model amongst youths at the annual Swedish gala for heroic actions. She was awarded because she found the strength to stand up against the victimizers who had tormented her for over a decade. Today she lectures about what she has been through and runs the blog marwalicious.devote.se.
Marwa Karim came to the city of Hudiksvall in Sweden as a 3-year-old from Iraq. During her first day of school she was called names such as disgusting and hairball. That was the take off of several years of hell of being both physically and psychologically bullied.
-At that point I didn’t understand that I was subject to bullying. I remembered feeling lonely and different, says Marwa Karim.
Her classmates distanced themselves from her, they taunted her and froze her out. As an 8-year-old she started skipping class. On several occasions she ran home from school or went to the woods to hide. Nobody reacted over her absence.
– When I confided in the teachers about what I was going through they claimed I was making a hen out of a feather. They said that the other students were afraid of me because I was foreign and different. That instead I should be understanding towards them. We would shake hands, say I am sorry and then everything was supposed to be all right, Marwa Karim says.
By the age of 14 she had filed her first Police report and an additional one by the age of 17. She was faced with death threats on Social Medias and a Facebook group that wished her out of her life was started. One of the police reports led to charges, the other one was dismissed. She was offered to either receive money that would compensate for the damages or reconcile with the girls who bullied her.
-What was I supposed to do with the money? I couldn’t buy friends with them, says Marwa Karim.
She felt ugly and disgusting and did not want to look herself in the mirror. It became too much to handle. On several occasions she stood by the railway station ready to jump in front of the train to end her own life.
– I felt so worthless. One time I just sat there and cried and cried. A man came up to me and wanted to call my parents, but I refused. He immediately understood that something was wrong, Marwa Karim says.
But something kept her lingering. She has always been an athlete and a competitive person and maybe that was what kept her moving forward. Somewhere in the back of her head she decided to win over the tormentors, the exact way her role model Beyoncé had done. She shifted school and a change was noticeable. One of the teachers actively worked with bullying and on an early stage realized that something was wrong with Marwa. He supported her and told her mother about what was going on. Something Marwa Karim had never done.
-When I ran home from school my mother was at work, in that way she never noticed. I was ashamed of being bullied. Since the teachers did not care I lost all trust in grownups, says Marwa Karim.
After that day her mother followed her to school as well as to all training sessions. – She is my second half and she has supported me all the way. I would never have made it if it was not for her, Marwa Karim says.
The turning point came when Marwa Karim started blogging about everything she had been through. She has always loved to write diaries and has seen it as a good way to get things off her mind. The response she got after her first post was huge. Thousands of people read it and she received hundreds of comments on it. A lot of people recognized themselves in her writing and had gone through the same experience.
–I never thought I would receive that type of response. I was in total shock, says Marwa Karim.
She has run the blog for four years time now and on a daily basis she responds to e-mails and comments from her readers. She has met a lot of her followers in real life as well. Several of them have similar experiences. She has also gotten together and mailed with parents thanking her for helping their child.
–I may be able to help in the beginning, later on parents and/or other grownups must step in. Unfortunately adults engage themselves too little these days, says Marwa Karim.
Marwa Karim decided that something had to be done. With the project “A knife straight through my back but I’m still alive” she gives lectures at schools around the country of Sweden. She has also collaborated with the union Friends who work against bullying and got to take over their Instagram account for a week.
–I am passionate about helping people in need and I am good at it, says Marwa Karim.
Marwa works as an assistant nurse at the hospital in Gävle in addition to that she studies at an adult educational school to finish the courses she never completed in upper secondary school. In the future she wants to become a social worker. She is aware of that what she has been through most likely has influenced her point of direction.
–It sounds strange to say it, but I would never have wanted to be without this experience. It has contributed to who I am today. Everything happens for a reason. But of course I wish nobody what I have been through, says Marwa Karim.
Just like the Swedish professional football player Zlatan Ibrahimovic has inspired Marwa with his strength and personality, Marwa wishes to do the same for others.
–Life is not hopeless. Believe in yourself! Look at me now, “I’m the boss” says Marwa Karim with twinkling eyes.
Dalila Megdiche Mouaid