real life

Ruby Rose tells her story: “I was bullied at school”

Welcome to a  sponsored post for National Buddy Week, an initiative of NAB and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.  National Buddy Week has been developed to highlight the need to prevent bullying in Australian schools and cyberspace. MTV host, designer and DJ Ruby Rose writes:

Ruby Rose

“My name is Ruby Rose Langenheim. I am 24 years old and I now own my own apartment in the same suburb where I spent my high school years in Melbourne.  I work a dream job where I travel the world, see things I never imagined and meet people whom I only ever dreamed of meeting.  But more important than all that, what I hold nearest and dearest to my heart is that I have been given the gift to speak and have people listen. I have been given the blessed opportunity to be able to tell my story and to be able to listen and relate to others.

I don’t really know the exact moment my life changed. I just remember the turning point two and a half years ago when I  found my place, my reason for being here.  My life all changed in the most incredible way in a matter of months. Now  I have this opportunity and I  hope I can inspire even just one child who reads this to believe in themselves and most importantly have hope and dreams.

My mother had me when she was 21. We lived on a farm with my father  and bred horses. When things got a bit messy (I was about 2) and my father was not so good to her , we had to run away for our safety. My mother stole the TV just so she could pawn it and get us a plane ticket to Tasmania. We lived with my Aunt Mary – still to this day my saviour. We literally just rocked up to her door step. My mother had two black eyes and weighed about 44 kilos and I was a malnourished little grubby cherub.

Aunt Mary helped us get our life back on track. Then we moved to Victoria – Churchill in Gippsland to be exact, so my mum could study Art at Monash University, which is where I sat, right with her on her lap until I was old enough to be where some other kids hung out.  Skipping a few years of the story  (of sleeping on different couches every week, sleeping in caravans and in cars) we eventually moved to Melbourne to live with my mother’s parents.

My mother, myself and our kitten ‘little puss’ (who we found in a bin in a plastic bag) all lived in one room. Years passed and we got a house around the corner, a church house which was part of the parish. I joined church choir and mum made scones and jam. We did our bit and in return they generously helped a single mum and crazy daughter out by charging us one hundred dollars a week rent for a house worth four times that. I was accepted by this church despite my sexuality and in retrospect I think I drew a lot of my inner peace from this.

Mum and I had no money. None at all.  So dinner was always mashed potato. On a good day we had it with cheese or bacon and sometimes just potato and pumpkin. I never got sick of it, in fact  it was always my favourite meal!

Mum and I drifted apart as I got into my teens and she started work.  Being in the city and going to high school was when I started to realise how different me and my family were to others. I dressed differently and wore the same thing every day. I didn’t have what everyone else had. At home our relationship was as good as it needed to be, but at times it was very hard for both of us.

Mum was still young and I started to experience tough times at school. Everything from now has been documented quite publicly. I was bullied at school and faced some very testing and trying times. At the time I did not believe I would get through it, but I always pulled it together and did my best.  From small scale exclusion from groups of friends, to the intimidation of being followed home and verbally abused, to having to read every day “We hate Ruby” on the toilet walls. This behaviour culminated in being physically attacked by a group of teenagers which put me in hospital.

I fought and fought for my place in this world.   I withdrew completely from my mother. I withdrew completely from the world. I withdrew completely from myself. Mum found out what was going on by reading my diary. She will argue to this day that it is a mothers God given right to read their child’s diary and swears this was the only way she could try to keep me protected and understand where her lovely little daughter had gone in herself.  For the record kids – I’m not condoning this!!

After school I didn’t work for a long time and hung out with the wrong kind of people. But I got out of that pretty quickly. I started full time work at a call centre whilst doing an acting course at VCA. I was also a door bitch on weekends, plus went to auditions throughout the week. I had to keep myself this busy to feel like I was heading in the right direction. That’s when I got the call offering me the presenting role at MTV. I had to move to Sydney in two weeks. I packed all I had and got to a hotel where I couldn’t afford room service. So I walked to find a cheap little sushi place.

When I finally found a house I spent all my money on bond and rent. I had no money but was too embarrassed to tell MTV or ask my mum for any, because I knew she wouldn’t have it. So, for two whole months I slept on the floor covered in towels as a blanket. However, I’d get up with a giant smile on my face, jump onto the train and get to my amazing new job! At first I faked confidence to get me through. Bit by bit that grew into some true confidence- that I was worthy and people did like me and seemed to enjoy who I was. Like everyone, I struggle with feelings of insecurity at times but I am hugely proud of the fact that my life is exciting and fulfilling and challenging……and I’m proud to be me.

I  thank the universe and am grateful to all the wonderful people along the way who believe in me; who teach me and give me the confidence (which is still sometimes hard to muster) to do everything I can to bring a positive message about working hard and overcoming the destructive effects of being bullied.

As the ambassador for National Buddy Week I am proud to put focus onto the positive messages we can give that things will get better, that there are so many good people you can talk to about how you are feeling if you are experiencing being bullied, that there is nothing to be ashamed of…..and to shout at the top of our lungs BULLIES – you know who you are – GIVE IT UP!!!”

What is National Buddy Week?
National Buddy Week  is an initiative of NAB and The Alannah and Madeline Foundation. It runs from 21 – 28 February and provides an opportunity for everyone to celebrate friendships and discuss the important issue of bullying.  Check out their website here

How can you get involved?

Too easy.  Throughout National Buddy Week, NAB branches will be selling friendship bands and badges (check out the bands on Ruby’s wrists and the badges on her t-shirt) .  Buy a band or badge, buy a couple in fact (all proceeds go to The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s bullying prevention programs).  Keep one for yourself and give one to a friend to show them just how important they are to you. Take this opportunity to celebrate your friendships.

What can I do if someone important to me is being bullied at school ?

(Taken from the National Centre Against Bullying website)

1. Talk

Start a conversation about being bullied. But don’t make it intense or you might deter them from talking to you.

2. Listen

Hear the whole story without interrupting. Ask what they want to happen before you make any suggestions.

3. Explain

It’s normal to feel hurt. It’s never OK to be bullied, and it’s not their fault.

4. Find out what is happening

Ask what, when and where the behaviours occurred, who was involved, how often and if anybody else saw it. Find out if any teachers know and if the school’s done something to address the situation.

5. Contact the school

Check the school’s bullying policy. Make an appointment to speak to your child’s teacher or coordinator. Be calm! Make a follow-up appointment in a week or two to make sure the situation is being addressed. Take your child.

6. Give sensible advice

Don’t advise your child to fight back.

Don’t explain that the child doing the bullying did not mean it—they did.

Don’t tell them it will go away—it probably won’t.

Don’t let your child stay away from school—it won’t solve the problem.

7. Help your child work out some things to do

Look at the Top Tips for Kids and help your child practise some useful strategies

For further information on National Buddy Week visit www.buddyweek.org.au

Dr Helen McGrath, an expert from the National Centre Against Bullying will be online to respond to your queries about bullying so if you have any questions at all please don’t be afraid to ask.

Have you or your children ever been bullied at school/online?

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