Q. Dilyer, in July 2019, you opened up to people about the bullying you’d experienced in school. What made you decide to go public with your experience?
A. I wanted to motivate other teenagers who were feeling desperate. I didn’t see bullying as only a bad thing. I saw it as a way to become stronger through problems life gives us. If I didn’t suffer bullying, I wouldn’t have the platform I have today! And I wouldn’t be motivating other teens!
Q. What was the toughest part about telling your story?
A. The toughest part was having to see my parents and my best friends find out what I was going through, because I never really told them. I kept it all to myself! It was heartbreaking for me to see them realize that I was at the lowest point in my life when I was being bullied.
Q. How were you hoping your social network followers would respond? And did they respond the way you’d hoped they would?
A. I knew, from the beginning, announcing this on social media would change lives and motivate people, because I was a role model to many! But no one knew what I was going through. I expected everyone to be surprised and shocked, because I’ve always been so happy with people, pretending I was alright. And that’s exactly what happened. People were so shocked. If a celebrity like Kevin Hart came out and said he was depressed, wouldn’t the world stop? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.
Q. You decided to not let the bullying issue drop. Instead, you’ve become a spokesperson for the anti-bullying movement. Can you talk about what you’re doing to help?
A. I think bullying is a topic that very much needs attention. It’s a serious topic! And bullying is everywhere. I was bullied because of my physical condition, but there are people being bullied because of their race, sexuality, religion, music tastes, or appearance — or because they were adopted or orphaned — and so many more reasons. For now, I’m using my platform to raise awareness, but in the future, I wish to donate money to anti-bullying organizations and increase my platform to raise more awareness. Look how the Black Lives Matter movement has grown in 2020. I believe the anti-bullying movement can get to that level one day! And I will keep fighting to make that happen.
Q. How did you defend yourself against school bullies?
A. I usually didn’t. I’m very sensitive, so I kept quiet and let it kill me inside. I feel like, when you answer your bully back, you are bullying, too. You become a bully, and I didn’t want to do that!
Q. Did you ask any kids or adults for help? If not, how did you handle the bullies?
A. I had this eye disorder since I was a baby. And I was bullied from the beginning. I remember I used to tell my parents when I was younger, but when I got to high school, I decided to keep my mouth shut. I felt like I was bothering my parents too much, and I didn’t want them to feel I was disappointed with life. I also didn’t want them to feel I was constantly crying to them. I’ve never been the type to stand up for myself, so whenever I was bullied, I would just pretend I didn’t hear it and keep going! But it really hurt. I cried a lot alone.
Q. Is there anything you’d do differently now than you did when you were being targeted by bullies?
A. Yes! I would most likely ask for help. It’s the best thing you can do. Don’t fight through it alone. I fought alone, but later, I realized it would be better if I had asked for help.
Q. What advice would you give to children who are facing bullying?
A. Always remember that all the bullies have their own insecurities, and they try to project them onto you.
Never hit or shout names back at them, because you’d also be bullying, and that would just add to your stress and anxiety.
Get support from the school. Being quiet about it won’t help you at all.
And, finally, try to appear confident, even if you don’t feel it. People say nasty things, because they want a certain reaction or to cause upset. So, if you give them the impression you’re not bothered, the bullies are more likely to stop.
Q. Did bullying didn’t stop for you when you became a social media influencer?
A. Not at all. It only got worse! When I got my eye surgery, I thought that was it for the bullying! I thought it was over. I thought I would never go through bullying again. But, soon, I realized it was not over. I learned that the bullying hadn’t happened because of how my eyes looked. It was because they wanted to bully. They always found reasons to bully, and the social media world is not much nicer than school was. But I’m now unbothered. I’ve dealt with bullying a lot, and now I don’t take it personally anymore. Don’t let the negativity of people project self-doubts onto you.
Q. How has the pandemic affected online bullying, in your experience?
A. It affected a lot negatively, because most people’s internet activity has surged, leading to an expected increase in the rate of cyber-bullying. That makes this the right time to increase the awareness about cyber-bullying and other types of bullying.
Q. What is your goal, as an anti-bullying crusader?
A. My goal is to make it a topic! Bullying is not talked enough like it has to be. This is a important topic that needs more attention. Bullying is killing people everyday. Shouldn’t the media cover bullying more? It has to. And I’m doing my best, and I’ll keep going my best to help raise awareness.
Q. Do you think we can ever completely eliminate bullying? If not, what would success look like?
A. Well, bullying is a complicated issue that cannot be solved with one school assembly or one special lesson. I think it’s impossible to completely eliminate bullying. because there will always be creeps out there. Although the Black Lives Matter movement was as big as it was, there are still a lot of racists out there. But success, for me, would be decreasing the death rates by 100%. I want everyone to understand that bullying makes you stronger, too! I want teens to understand that killing yourself is not an option. You can recover from your bullying trauma, but you cannot fix death! No one wants to see someone they dearly love end their life. So success, for me, would be to eliminate deaths caused by bullying.
Q. Also, is there anything you’d like to add that I haven’t asked you about? What’s the best way for people who want to help to connect with you?
A. Yes. I want to help everyone I can, and let them know they have a friend in me! I will be there for them to talk with. They might not know me, but I don’t want them to feel they ever could be a burden. I care. Also, no one wants to see someone they care about end their life. Bullying is a vicious thing that causes so many bad things to happen to the kindest and gentlest people. Everyone has feelings. And always remember that words actually do hurt.
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