Angels Hope co-founder and bullying survivor Chloe Cunningham.
Angels Hope co-founder and bullying survivor Chloe Cunningham. Contributed

Chloe emerges from six years of abuse a survivor

CHLOE Cunningham is a fighter.

The outgoing 24-year-old university student spent six years battling to keep her sanity as her peers subjected her to emotional and cyber abuse.

The attacks started when she was 12 and continued into late adolescence and were so bad that the sports-loving young woman's body gave in - literally.

"By the time I was 18, my body reacted to the trauma and I became so ill I was paralysed and admitted into hospital," Ms Cunningham told ARM Newsdesk.

"I was unable to get away from the bullying I encountered.

"It included social exclusion, so being ignored by girls and boys and to the extent of being ordered to leave.

"I had food thrown at me, drinks thrown down my back, cruel statements written in my school diary and cyber bullying, using a fake profile, they posted a monkey and wrote cruel comments about me.

"A girl also once made herself vomit on my state cap before racing when I was representing Tasmania at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships."

How you can be an angel of hope in the war against bullies

Ms Cunningham spent most of her teenage years just trying to get through each day and hiding the abuse from her mum and dad.

"I didn't want anyone to know the pain I was in, including my parents," she said.

"I do remember one time, I broke down crying in the hallway of the school, but no one asked if I was okay.

"I honestly don't know how I coped."

Ms Cunningham decided the bullies might have had her beaten but they would not break her.

"I just said to myself 'I am going to beat them' and determined to chase my dreams," she said.

"I was not going to give up and let them win."

Now a dedicated anti-bullying advocate, Ms Cunningham said raising your voice was one of the best ways to end bullying.

"The advice I would give to young people and children is to speak up, as that's the one mistake I made," she said.

"Do not let the bullies get the best of you. Believe that you're strong enough to keep fighting on."

While her experiences were devastating, Ms Cunningham has come out the other side a true survivor.

"Bullying has shaped my adulthood in an amazing way," she said.

"When I was getting bullied, there's no way that I would have believed that my life would have turned out as amazing as it is.

"When you overcome the trauma, you see the most beautiful things in the world and you choose to live the life you deserve."

 

HELP IS AT HAND

ReachOut: au.reachout.com.

Bullying No Way: http://www.bullyingnoway.gov.au.

Kids Helpline: kidshelpline.com.au or 1800 55 1800.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

Percentage of students impacted by bullying:

YEAR NSW QLD Australia
Year 4 31.8% 22.6% 27.4%
Year 5 39.8% 26.4% 32.2%
Year 6 34.1% 24.1% 24.6%
Year 7 20.9% 27.8% 23.9%
Year 8 28.9% 35.2% 29.1%
Year 9 22% 30.9% 23.6%

Source: Angels Hope



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