Support from public has overwhelmed me, says Belfast bullying victim
A woman with a facial disfigurement who spoke out about the vile abuse hurled at her on a daily basis says she has been overwhelmed by the public response to her story.
Janine Howard (33), from North Belfast, was left disfigured after contracting a flesh-eating bug while undergoing treatment for acute lymphatic leukaemia when she was just two.
This week she spoke about how she has faced a lifetime of bullying as a result - and has been heartened by messages she has received.
"So many people have reached out to me," Janine said.
"I have been contacted by people wanting to send me away for the weekend and a man approached me in Cityside and gave me a big box of Maltesers and told me not everyone is like the bullies - I just blushed," she said.
In yesterday's Belfast Telegraph the engaged mum-of-two pleaded for her tormentors to let her live in peace and described how children as young as 11 call her disgusting names - including pasty face, and spastic face - when she leaves her New Lodge home.
Many people have reached out to Janine following her display of courage, including singer/songwriter Kaz Hawkins.
She tweeted: "I want to #standwithjanine to help show her that the bullies are in the minority and to pay tribute to her as a wonderful human being and a strong woman.
"I have invited her to be my guest at my new show which seeks to break down the barriers around mental health through music which has aided my own recovery."
Janine is looking forward to attending the concert, which will coincide with international Women's Day on March 8.
"I'm quite excited, it's in the Clayton Hotel and I'm planning on going along with my sister," she said.
SDLP councillor Paul McCusker also plans to invite local children to hear Janine tell her story.