Thursday, November 5, Jonathan Destin took part in the National Day against Bullying at School. Almost ten years ago, in his college in northern France, he had been the victim of such bullying and pressure that he tried to set himself on fire. He narrowly escaped.
Today, it is a young adult in reconstruction who testifies against this scourge. Jonathan Destin bears the scars of this drama. 72% burned, he remained in an artificial coma for three months. He still undergoes regular operations to repair a body that has been damaged for life. He speaks, “So that it does not start or so that it stops for other young people”.
→ READ. School bullying, testifying to rebuild
Jonathan is slowly recovering, over the course of skin grafts, appointments with his psychologist and rehabilitation sessions. He had to learn to walk again. And to manage his emotions. “I have only felt capable of going back to class for two years, he confides. The first time, I had to go out, I couldn’t stand to see tables again, let alone the playground. “
“No student told me he was sad or sorry”
In front of children, young people or adults, Jonathan Destin today tells about his years of bullying and what could have been done to help him. “At the time, no student told me they were sad or sorry for what I was going through …” He just remembers a French teacher who seemed to understand him. Unlike others. “I once complained to a teacher who said, ‘They’re just having fun with you, go back to them.’ “
→ EXPLANATION. School bullying, the role of teachers in debate
The miraculous also insists on the importance of speaking: “You have to find someone you trust, your parents, a friend, a teacher, and if you are not listened to, look for someone else. I regret not having dared to speak to my parents. “
An easy target
The schoolboy was afraid, ashamed too. “Ashamed to be weak compared to my father or my grandfather, more courageous …” Jonathan nevertheless lived in the bosom of a loving family, but at home, we did not pour out. As a teenager, he did not fight, had difficulties in class, he was too nice, a little fat, isolated: an easy target.
For six years, Jonathan cashed without flinching the insults on his name or his build, at school, at the swimming pool, in the canteen too, where some made fun of him as soon as he ate, the mockery on his clothes – “Because I had no marks” -, and beatings in the classroom, in the hallways, in the courtyard and outside the college, where older students began to follow him to extort money. “I held on thanks to the family moments”, he recalls. But in the evening in his room, the teenager cries and thinks more and more about suicide.
“To finally be at peace”
The day when young people put a gun to his head, asking him for money and threatening to attack his family, he decides to end it, “To finally be at peace”. “On February 8, 2011, I bought rubbing alcohol and set myself on fire”, he says in his book, Condemned to kill me, published in 2013 (1). He thought his heart would burn quickly … Hence the title of the TV movie inspired by his story, The day I burned my heart (2).
A true living torch, it runs to the nearby canal and jumps into the water. A passerby, Fabienne, hears him and saves him. “She became my friend and my hairdresser”, adds Jonathan, whose hair has grown back.
After the media coverage of his story, he received many messages of support, “In particular a young man from Lyon, who apologized because he himself was a stalker”. The ex-victim does not forget to call the “Followers” : “They can go see the teachers, the friends or the harassed to play the intermediary. “
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With the association created by his parents, Tous solidaires pour Jonathan, he took action, but was also at a loss when faced with the scale of the task: “You can be harassed because you don’t have a brand, because you’re fat, red-haired, or for nothing. Harassment has always existed and today, with social networks, it is sometimes worse. “ He advises him to call 3020, the help number for victims of bullying, or the France Victims federation.
Work in IT or pastry
If he had long hoped to be asked for forgiveness, the young man, now surrounded by friends, moved on. At almost 26 years old, Jonathan lives in an apartment with Câline, his rabbit, not far from his mother. Her father passed away this summer.
He would like to work one day, in IT or pastry: “It was my childhood dream, but I haven’t regained all my motor skills and I still can’t stand the heat. (sweat only evacuating through healthy areas of skin, editor’s note). With time perhaps … “ Jonathan Destin is an adult who still feels fragile: “Going to schools, psychologically, helps me a lot. “
His inspiration. “Cooking, a passion that distresses me”
“The more time I spend in my kitchen, the better I am, confides Jonathan Destin. It is a passion that allows me to escape and de-stresses me. “ As a child, he loved to watch his mother, his loving grandmother or his father working at the stove. This generous cook, who adores entertaining, simmers his dishes at his own pace, slowly but surely, against a backdrop of songs by French singer Ben l’Oncle Soul. He takes pleasure in shopping, choosing his products and harvesting those from his mother’s garden, such as rhubarb for his revisited meringue pie. His favorite dish? Flemish carbonade, a typical dish from the North. And as he lists the ingredients, you almost smell the gingerbread and mustard rise to the nose.