Ashley is a new and developing character for me. She was conceived as a possibility after a conversation about bullying I had with a friend recently. While I am very much against bullying in the sense that using any sort of torture be it physical, mental, or emotional is wrong my personal stance and views on bullying tend to differ greatly from many others I know. I am aware of the controversial place I stand but I believe everyone should hold strong to their own principals.
Ashley is a bully. She victimizes other students in her high school to the point they go out of her way to avoid her. They report her and form collective groups out of fear of her and her followers. She is the leader of her small gang of enforcers and though people do occasionally trade money or items to avoid her wrath that isn't why she does it. She makes sure that everyone knowns she has the power to run the school. She is strong and she has the power.
Ashley is also a victim. Her father was an abusive drug addict that was in and out of her life repeatedly. He beat her mother, verbally attacked Ashley for years and when he showed any indications of going after her little sister Ashley stood up to him and he beat her as well. Her sister was too young to remember when their mother finally stood up for herself but Ashley remembers every second of it. It is imprinted on her soul.
Her mother vowed never to be a victim again and became obsessive about Ashley being able to defend herself. She programmed her daughter never to let anyone take control away from her. Being at home was like going to self defense boot camp on steroids. It leapt past personal protection into antagonistic behavior and drove Ashley to become a girl that not only takes no shit from other people but she will start a fight just to prove she will come out on top.
Ashley is not only strong but she is beautiful. Her looks make her popular and her attitude makes her feared. She loves the power but she is a terribly lonely girl because all she wants is the acceptance she never got from her family. She insists upon the respect she feels she deserves but deep down she knows her so called "friends" would run and hide in an instant if it wouldn't mean incurring her rage. She fights the battle between how to be the person she truly wants to be and continuing in a life as both a victim and a bully.
I am working with local schools, therapists and corrections officers as well as secondary research for this book and hope it will bring to light a new way of seeing bullies and how we deal with them.