Beauty Queen Shares Bullying Story

Published 02/25 2014 09:17PM

Updated 02/26 2014 03:53PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Bullying can cause outcomes such as mental health issues, substance abuse, or even suicide.

For some, overcoming those could be a major issue.

"Girls started to threaten to beat me up. It got very graphic even when boys were threatening to rape me even if I went down a certain hallway after school," said Ashley Mills, 2013 Miss North Carolina USA.

Before Mills became one of the nation's top beauty queens, she was a victim of bullying.

Mills says she was bullied so badly to a point where she was scared to go school.

"I would fake sick, or I think I even slipped down the stairs at one point just to avoid going to school because I was that afraid and I was tormented," said Mills.

She told a teacher at her school, but Mills said the threats kept coming. 

"I shut down at that point. For me to come to an adult and be courageous enough to do that, which most students don't do to this stay, and for you to respond to me like that, I honestly didn't know what to do," she said.

Things took a turn for mills when she entered the pageantry world at 17.

Now, she's an advocate against bullying.

"Becoming a pageant title holder could be a great way to open up about what I went through and also be a voice for people who might not be as courageous to speak up for themselves when they are getting bullied," said Mills.

Deidre Richburg, a St. Joseph Family Guidance Clinical Coordinator, said not everyone is able to bounce back from bullying like Mills did.

"A lot of children who've been bullied, they are at higher risk for suicide, most of them go in and out of hospitals. A lot of them really aren't comfortable with who they are as a person," said Richburg.

A recent Britain study found at least half of suicides among young people in the United States are bullying related.

"Unlike Miss North Carolina, who took being bullied and turned it into a positive, while showing people even though you're bullied, even though you're picked on, you are still a great person and this is what you can become," Richburg said. "Some people take that as, well, a lot of people picked on me, so, I'm obviously not worth. Therefore, I'm picking on others and will commit these criminal behaviors."

ABC News reports that nearly 30 percent of all students are either bullies or victims of bullying.

Richburg says it's important for parents to talk to their kids about bullying and set a good example.

"Show your children how much they're worth. Give them hugs. The times that they do, whether it's simple drawings, encourage them. Show them how good that work is," said Richburg.

Mills wants people to know that's it is OK to ask for help, and it is OK to tell someone if you are a victim of bullying.

"Believe in yourself and love yourself. Even if no one else does because someone in this world loves you. Whether you want to believe it or not, somebody does. I don't know you, but I love you," said Mills.

To read more about Ashley Mills, click here.

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