One in four Australian students will be bullied at school this year. Bryce Corbett talks to TV presenter Ruby Rose about how she overcame the bullies who made her school days hell.
"It only really started when I got to high school. I was never really one of those kids who blended in. By the time I got to high school, I was different enough to attract the attention of bullies. The fact I refused to apologise for being different just added fuel to their fire.
"I was raised by a single mum; we never had much money. I couldn't afford the clothes all the girls were wearing and I'd get around in Blundstones and trackies. I started doing a bit of modelling and that seemed to annoy the bullies. Plus there was the fact I was gay. It was usually groups of girls who would hassle me.
"Year 10 was the worst. It got so bad I begged my mum to change schools. It's not her fault, she never really knew how bad it was, but she would tell me to ignore the bullies and they would go away. They didn't.
"One afternoon after school I was attacked in a café. A metal chair was smashed repeatedly against the back of my head. The whole school had gathered to watch it happen. And as much as the pain of the attack was awful, the thing that hurt me the most afterwards was that no one stepped in to try to stop it. I remember looking up while the attack was taking place and seeing people laughing. I had to be taken to hospital.
"When you're at school, it's hard to see beyond those four walls. You're too young and have too little life experience to know that school is just a tiny blip on what will hopefully be a long and happy life. It was only when I left school that I discovered there's a whole world out there – and it's a big, exciting, tolerant world, filled with people just like you.
"Do I harbour any bitterness towards the bullies? Not really. I used to, but now I'm older I look back and think those same girls have probably had their own disappointments and challenges and tragedies in their lives and at some point had to face their own demons. As Oprah says, hating someone is like drinking poison every day."
Read more of this story in the March issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.