Married At First Sight

SHOCK CLAIMS: MAFS bride named in school bullying allegations by Voice star

The Voice contestant James Banks reveals how his treatment by schoolmates, including Ines Basic, affects him even until this day.

By Anita Lyons
TRIGGER WARNING: This story includes some offensive language.
It's no secret that Married at First Sight's Ines Basic is one of the more controversial figures to hit Aussie TV screens in recent times.
The 29-year-old legal assistant, who was 'married' to Bronson, was labelled a "bully" by social media users across the country during her time on the reality show.
Now, in an exclusive Now to Love story, we can reveal that a former contestant on The Voice, James Banks, went to school with Ines and he tells how her behaviour towards him affects him to this day.
James, who appeared on Season 6 of The Voice, has come out with shocking claims that during his high school years, bullying from Ines and a group of her friends led to him moving schools.
"Ines was in what my friends and I would call 'the Rat Pack'. It was her and three or four other girls," James recalled.
"I wouldn't say she was the coolest kid in school, but she was popular."
James was in Year 8, the first year of high school in QLD, and was struggling with dysmorphia, which led him to being confused about "whether he was transgender or not".
James Banks was a contestant on Season 6 of The Voice. (Source: Instagram)
"At that point in time, I was portraying myself as female and was comfortable in that," the now 27-year-old said.
"One day after school, there was a place called the 'back track' which was like a back alley that cut through all the back area to get home and I remember I was growing my hair because I wanted to be female and I had this tiny little pony tail.
"I was so proud of this tiny little pony tail. I was walking through the back track and I heard yelling behind me and I looked back and there were people behind me – and Ines was there. [One of them] came and slapped chewing gum on the back of my head.
"I didn't even make it half way through grade eight, I had to pull out it was so bad.
"It was basically just these three or four girls and the boys they were having things with – whether it was going into school, whether it be on lunch break – I was always being called a 'faggot', I was being called 'poofter' and any name you could think of."
James during his high school years. (Source: Supplied)
The part-time hairdresser said he would also have food thrown at him at the local food court by fellow students.
The bullying became so incessant, James said, that he had to moved to a school in another suburb to finish Year 8, before deciding to finish school privately because he continued to "cop the wrath of who he was".
"I would say that that [this] was the first point of bullying for me going into high school – so that was definitely the first part of my life that kind of threw me from being in primary school and just being young innocent, and automatically go into this big school and there's Ines and her friends who would yell: 'You're a faggot', 'You're a freak', 'You're a poof' and so it was a starting point," he said.
"I still feel like it's so hard to trust people now.
"It's very hard for me to translate now as to why people are looking at me because I still have those feelings of, 'Am I a freak' or 'Am I a weirdo'?
"What is it about me that make people stare at me. I see people whisper as I walk past and it's just constantly in the back of my head that they're automatically thinking or talking about these things that happened all those years ago."
Ines Basic's high school photo. (Source: Supplied)
James says he is not telling his story to shame Ines, who was just one of a group of young people treating him this way, but is ultimately using the platform as a tool to help others who may be experiencing the same thing.
In fact, since appearing on The Voice, he has received countless messages from young people reaching out to him.
"A lot of young people reach out to me and talk about being transgender and wanting to commit suicide," he said.
"That was a process that I had to go through and I was very lucky to have the people around me that I did but there are some kids out there who don't have that structure and that upbringing behind them.
"Bullying is never OK in any sense. You are put on this earth as who you are for a reason. You should be able to be proud of that and never be discouraged about who you want to be or why you want certain things."
Watch: James Banks during his blind audition for The Voice.
Story continues after video...
"It's just so awful that people have to go through this before they even get to experience life, they've already being thrown these insults and people can't even grow up and be genuine," James adds.
"I just want people to understand that there will always be someone who will listen, like you never have to go on social media or go to school and feel the wrath of these people.
"Even if it's me… If someone reads this and they feel they can't go to their parents or they can't talk to their friends, if I can be that person that would just mean the world."
As for Ines, James has only one thing to say to his taunter: "You reap what you sow."
Now to Love has reached out to both Ines and from the MAFS production company Endemol Shine for comment. Endemol Shine did not want to comment.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.