Upon first meeting Victoria DiNatale, many people wouldn’t think this vibrant and articulate young woman could have been a victim of severe bullying. On Sept. 16, the 20-year-old Armstrong Atlantic State University student and motivational speaker visited Bryan County High School to relate her story and deliver a powerful message.
DiNatale talked about the bullying she suffered in middle school and the detrimental effect it had on her well-being.
The actions of the bullies caused her to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, which generally is a condition experienced by military combat veterans.
She spoke of the emotional abuse and physical and sexual threats she received from her bullies. She explained how it led to her becoming very sick with a persistent stress cough, insomnia, undernourishment, allergic skin reactions, a ripped lower intestine and eventually the contemplation of suicide.
Bullying had pushed her to the brink. However, DiNatale explained that she was able to begin her recovery thanks to caring parents, a transfer to a new school, a helpful faculty and faith.
As DiNatale related her experience with bullying to the BCHS audience, she made her message abundantly clear:
• Bullying is a choice.
• No one has the right to bully anyone.
• Bullying is against the law.
• Bad things happen when bullying occurs.
• The consequences of bullying are very serious for the victim and the bully.
• Suicide is not an option.
The students at Bryan County High School appeared to appreciate her message and seemed interested in learning more about the correct ways to deal with bullying. DiNatale also shared anti-bullying websites and informational pamphlets.
Student Amber Cobb commented that the anti-bullying assembly was a good idea and might help to prevent bullying in the future.
“Victoria’s story was really heartwarming, and I learned quite a bit from the whole thing,” BCHS freshman Elise Hartman said.
Student Andrew Ferreira said he thought the assembly was very helpful and that it helped to make people aware of the problem so that they could really address it.
Eleventh-grader Juan Calvillo, however, said the assembly was a great idea but that the message would not be totally accepted by everyone.
“It is my sincere hope that Victoria’s personal story will inspire us all to embrace our differences and to remind us of our responsibility to treat others as we wish to be treated,” BCHS principal Dr. Dawn Hadley said as the assembly concluded.