When a young man was brutally beaten up by bullies, he thought his life was over.
Later that evening, he saw the attack had been filmed and shared around school and things went from bad to worse.
Now 21, Ryan Woollard, from Leeds, talks to UNILAD about wanting to kill himself after the violent incident.
You can watch Ryan tell his story below:
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When Ryan was first bullied he was just a young boy in primary school. He was victimised and picked out by his peers because he has two gay mums and, in his own words, was overweight.
For some, this apparently warranted a lifetime of abuse which left Ryan feeling like he ‘didn’t deserve to be alive’ and only ended when he was old enough to escape the school hallways where his bullies lay in wait.
Unfortunately, their abuse plagued him at home too after one incident was filmed. ‘It went all the way round school, everyone was laughing at me.’
Speaking exclusively to UNILAD, Ryan recalled one of many attacks:
In high school, during lunch break, this kid came up to me. I’d never even seen him before. He sucker punched me and I fell back and hit my head on the ground.
All I remember is feeling fists on my face. My eyes were all groggy so I couldn’t really see what was going on. I didn’t find out until later that night they’d all filmed it and put it all over the internet.
Ryan choked up as he remembered ‘everyone laughing at me just because I couldn’t defend myself’ against an ambush from a group of violent bullies.
In his softly-spoken tones, he lamented ‘that feeling that nobody liked me and everyone hated me’.
Ryan’s story is particularly poignant this Anti-Bullying Week, as cyber-bullying becomes ever more pervasive and damaging to young people growing up in the 21st century.
The Jedward fan continued to describe how he feared his aggressors:
It was very scary to go to school everyday. I was scared to see those people, wondering what they’d say or do next. Obviously being 12 years old, that was very hard to go through.
It left emotional and physical damage that really destroyed me. It took my confidence to the lowest low where I could probably go.
I had many horrible things said to me about my mums. Basically they’d say, ‘You’re mum’s a dirty lesbian, or a dirty dyke’ and all that kind of homophobic abuse. They used to call me gay.
Ryan says the verbal abuse left him ‘saddened’ and confused as to the bullies motives, adding:
My mums weren’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t doing anything wrong to them. I just wanted to go to school to learn and try get an education. It kind of distracted me from getting all that.
Ryan is living proof that no victim of bullying is alone, and he implores others like him to ‘not blame yourself’.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself. There are always going to be hard days, but there are always going to be good days too. I shouldn’t have to live in fear of what other people think of me. Be proud of yourself.
Ryan was able to overcome the obstacles laid out before him by his bullies, through the support of his family and help networks like Ditch The Label, one of the largest anti-bullying charities in the world.
— Ditch the Label (@DitchtheLabel) November 13, 2017
Liam Hackett, CEO of Ditch the Label, explained how bullying affects guys for years to come, and can follows boys beyond the school playground and throughout their lives – including the workplace – as well as the prevalence of cyberbullying.
The mantra ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ is instilled from childhood, and ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is not an option often publicly extended to many young people.
Sadly, if you’re male and aged between 8 and 80 you’ve probably been told to ‘man up’ or ‘grow a pair’ at some point in your life.
While the nonsensical demand might not seem like a big deal at the time, a new report asks what it means to be a modern man has revealed the terrible consequences of stereotyping masculinity – from suicide to violence to bullying, by way of isolation and repression.
Lynx, who conducted the study, calls this the ‘Man Box’: a crazy structure of expectations to ‘act tough’ and ‘man up’ that traps guys from an early age.
Worryingly, guys forced to conform to these archaic modes of manhood are twice as likely to take their own lives, with British men at the most risk, being 2.8 times more likely to die by suicide.
Of the 3,500 guys surveyed, 665 report having had thoughts of committing suicide within the last two weeks – a shocking 19 per cent – and the study shows a significantly higher rate of depression.
And the Man Box isn’t just a danger to those trapped inside. Men in the ‘Man Box’ are six to seven times as likely to perpetrate physical bullying in the past month.
Ryan told UNILAD he will never understand why he was subject to lifelong bullying, or why his aggressors did what they did. What he does know, is he made it through the trauma.
If you’re being bullied, please don’t suffer in silence. You can chat to a mentor at Ditch The Label, anytime, anywhere, with total anonymity.
If you need to talk about your mental health or suicidal feelings, you can call Samaritans via their freephone, anonymous advice line on: 116 321.