yet the both of you have registered at this board, made friends and even found the courage to talk openly about what has happened to you and how it still influences your life.
I think that takes a lot of strength (which the bullies wouldn't have, I bet). It seems to me that in spite of everything, or maybe because of everything, you are much stronger than you believe.
To a certain extent I am in a similar situation. I was a member here, under a different name, 10 years ago. At that time there was a huge war between a group of trolls and the board management here. As I had friends on both boards and used to defend my buddies, I got between the fronts. It ended with me being bullied by an Admin here and many board members joining the "fun". Among them were quite a lot I had up to that point considered friends. It was rather a shock. When I tried to fight back against the bullying Admin, she perma-banned me, regardless of the fact that I had a perfectly clean record. (At that time the board was led in a rather undemocratic and unfair fashion; I guess nowadays it would be harder to perform such a stunt)
Now that Admin has left the board, Bonzie has taken over (she defended me back then, risking to get banned herself), and some RL friends of me who post here asked me to return, so I reluctantly joined, keeping my old name secret.
At first I felt extremely uncomfortable since quite a few of the bullies still post here, but after a few months now I am beginning to feel safer again and almost comfortable.
I am, in fact, considering to reveal my old name at the risk of getting bullied again.
For this time, I think, there would be quite a few people standing up against the bullies.