Being bullied as a child or teenager can have a lasting impact, with those affected remembering the incidents as adults like they were only yesterday.
As part of HuffPost UK’s original video series New Activists, five people who were bullied when they were younger reflect on their experiences, to mark Anti-Bulling Week.
The group has one overall message for anyone watching who is affected: embrace your individuality.
Trans activist Charlie Craggs describes being bullied from the age of 13, saying she was called “gay” by classmates implying it was an insult.
“I remember going home and crying to my mum and though that’s sad, what I think is sadder is that throughout my life by the time I was maybe like, 13, 14, I’d been called ‘gay’ in a bad way so many times and other words like ‘batty boy’, ‘chi chi man’, ‘faggot’, ‘gay boy’...I’d been called those names so many times that I wasn’t sad anymore and I wouldn’t cry about it because it had become so normal,” she says.
“People bully you because you’re different.. If you’re able to hold onto what makes you different and be proud of it and to choose not to change, that is when you beat them.
“Never let them crack you. Because that annoys them even more. ”
Meanwhile ex T4 presenter and current personal trainer Georgie Okell says she got “hideously bullied” in her early teens.
“All the boys on the school bus used to call me ‘monkey boy’. They called me ‘ugly’, ‘sweaty’, ‘spotty’, ‘gross’,” she says.
“I would sometimes get off the school bus in floods of tears and walk a couple of miles to where my mum was picking me up because I just couldn’t hack it.”
But now, Georgie loves her physique as it enables her to be a strong athlete.
“Now I’d say to my younger self, ’do you know what? Mate, you are going to grow up to be a bit of a monkey boy, you have long limbs, you have big hands, you have big feet. You have this kind of boyish athletic figure that will allow you to really excel in sports, in running marathons in being a personal trainer and you will learn to embrace that body,” she says.
“The way you look and the fact that your hair and your face and your body and the way you speak are a little bit different from the popular girls in school and the popular girls in life and that’s fine.’
“It has taken me a long time to get there and to know that, but I’m really glad that I did, because being different is better.”
Activist Munroe Bergdorf says her advice for anyone currently being bulled is to not “let anybody have the power over you”, while anti-bullying activist Liam Hackett, who founded Ditch The Label, says it’s important to remember bullying won’t last forever, even if it feels like it will.
Finally Charlie Lait, who works in social media, highlights that bullies themselves are often unhappy.
Following the death of her father, Charlie was bullied after becoming quiet at school. However, she later became the bully herself when she joined in the bullying of another girl.
“I was lucky because that person who I’d been picking on, she was more mature than I was at 13,” she says.
“She took me under her wing and forgave me for picking on her, even though I’d been really, really cruel to her.
“She is still my friend to this day and that’s over 10 years later.”