Belfast Telegraph

QUB student Anita out to turn the tables on bullies with her cartoon

By Lisa Smyth

A teenager has told how she was plunged into depression as a result of an online bullying campaign urging her to kill herself.

Anita Dennison (19) was beaten up at school when she was 16 and bullied for another year. Now, after overcoming the effects, she is urging other victims of bullying to speak up and ask for help.

The Queen's University student, from Newry in Co Down, has launched an animated film - A Young Person's Guide To Bullying - that she hopes will help others to break free from the torment that comes with such abuse.

"I was attacked by a girl when I was in the school playground in front of hundreds of students," Anita said.

"Luckily, several people came to help me. That night, when I was recovering at home, the cyber-bullying started.

"Anonymous accounts were set up on Facebook and I was threatened with further violence.

"Someone wrote a comment telling me that I didn't deserve to be here anymore and that I should take my own life."

For three months Anita continued to suffer in silence.

"I knew what was happening was wrong, but I didn't realise it was a form of bullying," she explained.

"The impact on my health was massive. I suffered from depression and anxiety and my self-esteem went through the floor."

Anita now wants to raise awareness of the different forms of bullying and encourage those affected to ask for help.

Supported by Fixers, a charity that gives young people a voice, Anita created her short animated film covering the various types of bullying, including some lesser known forms.

She now plans to show her film in schools so that pupils and their parents can better understanding of what a bullied child may be going through.

Speaking about her recovery, the student said: "It took 18 months of counselling for me to get back to my old self.

"I was fortunate to have the support of school, family and close friends. I got the help I needed and now I want the same for others.

"I want young people to understand when they're being bullied so they can speak to someone who can make it stop.

"Speaking out changed my life for the better."

Fixers works with young people aged between 16 and 25 across the UK and provides them with resources to help them campaign on the issues that they feel strongly about.

The charity has helped more than 17,000 youngsters across the UK to have a voice in their community.

Fixers aims to work with more than 70,000 young people by 2020 and to do this needs to raise funds.

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