Crystal Bowersox’s Powerful and Moving Story About Being Bullied as a Youth (UPDATE: Added AC360 VIDEO)

Crystal Bowersox tells her own powerful and moving story about the affects of bullying on her life as a young girl.

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Read Crystal’s story HERE, and an excerpt after the jump.

At one point, between the stress at home and being the victim of bullies at the public school she attended, it got so bad,   she contemplated suicide.

Finally, in her junior year, Crystal transferred to a charter school specializing in the arts and her life improved.

You can watch Crystal tell her story tonight on Anderson Cooper’s town hall special on bullying on CNN at 10 pm.

UPDATE: Watch Crystal talk about her experiences being bullied on tonight’s special Anderson Cooper 360 Town Hall special on bullying

I was often picked on for being poor. My brothers and I were part of the low-income school lunch programs, so our lunches were free. My clothes were never name brand or new, and usually rust stained due to hard water. I remember feeling so proud of myself for making the junior high school swim team, then hassled for attending meets wearing a used Goodwill suit because we couldn’t afford the team ones and gear. In the winter season, I smelled like a camp fire and kerosene because our mother would use anything to heat the house, i.e. kerosene heaters -pluming smoke into the middle of the living room, or old shoes or garbage to stoke the wood-burning stove in the kitchen. My home life was beyond humble. At school, I was punished for it. I was also taunted by a few students for being diabetic. I was diagnosed at the age of 6, so these taunts started early on and were usually based upon fear and/or curiosity. Literally, students used the word, “Diabetic!!” as an insult among sneering and scoffing when I would eat something in class. I later learned to manipulate my health to miss school, because I dreaded being there so, and the hospital felt safer than home.

Crystal Bowersox – Anderson Cooper 360

About mj santilli 33682 Articles
Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!

53 Comments

  1. Poor Crystal, this mustr have been a horrible childhood. Thank goodness for AI and her getting a chance in this world, and getting to make something of herself. I am proud of her, I hope her Album does good.

  2. Very, very moving and inspirational stuff. This girl has led an incredibly tough life, and is a perfect example of how no matter how bleak things may seem you can turn things around. She’s a truly amazing young lady.

    I know we joke a lot about how Lee’s comically lame paint salesman story captivated the Idol audience to rally behind him, and I’m not knocking him for it at all; it was the Idol PTB that embellished it to the absurd, but a big wow must go out to Crystal for refusing to allow her hardship to be used to gain sympathy votes.

    I think she’s going to be a very powerful voice in the music world for a long time to come, and not just because of her music.

  3. Very moving story of Crystal’s life. She seems to be a pretty remarkable person, despite all of her hardships.

  4. Ha ha! “Living well is the best revenge.” I’ll bet those kids are regretting their words now.

  5. I hope those who made fun of Crystal see the segment, but sadly they probably will choose to ignore it. She is so far above them now.. Best of luck to her in her career.

  6. “There are a few incidents that I remember quite vividly. I’ve managed to let go and block out a lot of things, but this one has stayed in my mind. School had just let out. I was headed to the bus, when I was suddenly pelted with ice. A few of the Varsity jackets had taken snowballs dipped them in water, which then turned into baseball-sized hail, and began stoning me. In pain, I tried to throw the ice-snowballs back, to no avail. I went home that night with my body and my spirit, black and blue”

    Why the whole thing that happened to her is sad and disturbing…the thing I quoted above is what irked me the most.You can bet if I was there at that time..those kids would be knocked down on their butts. How can people be that cruel.

  7. thanks for posting!!

    Much education is needed before it sinks in that bullying is not acceptable, isn’t it?

    I feel for her.

  8. Wasn’t a big fan of Season 9 but Crystal was the only one I voted for. Was not aware of her difficult childhood. I wish her loads of success with her new album – I expect it to be very good.

  9. I love this girl- not only her awesome musical talent, but her character. She is an inspiration for many. I wish nothing but the best for her.

  10. Crystal for refusing to allow her hardship to be used to gain sympathy votes.

    How do you know she refused? Maybe TPTB didn’t know about it… there are many things the producers didn’t/don’t know/don’t bother about in regards to their contestants. That’s been proven over and over again. And its also been proven that AI has no scruples when it comes to back stories. If they want to run it, they will. But, I am impressed they didn’t in this circumstance.

    That being said, I appreciate her putting her story out there now. Very open and honest of her to do. I am glad she didn’t pull a fantasia and bring it out at album/reality show time for the sympathy buy.

    I hate to read how she suffered… no one should have these things happen to them. I’ve never understood how people can be so cruel and stupid either.

  11. Thank God she is one of many speaking out on this topic. Bullies thrive in the dark – let the sunshine in and they will melt like the vampires they are.

    I taught my children to always, always, always speak up when they see a bully and thank god it is one of the lessons they took to heart. We can end this practice, very easily. Just do not ever tolerate it. And let the sunshine in.

    (Didn’t mean to be preachy, but since I”m old and most of you are young, I’m counting on you to make things better. It’s your turn now.)

  12. I feel in a way we’ve been able to watch Crystal’s world transform before our eyes. What a privilege it has been to get a glimpse of her journey from where she was to where she is today. This is truly American Idol at its finest.

    Only in America…

  13. She seems to be a pretty remarkable person, despite all of her hardships.

    Yes, she´s a very remarkable person. But IMO, not despite, but rather BECAUSE of her hardship. Unfortunately, most children who go through ordeals of this nature, break down and have permanent scars they never recover from. People who talk or in Crystals case, talk, sing and write about these matters, will be more credible and have more impact to give hope to those who suffer and be more effective spreading awareness.

  14. Nice post, Negativo. I think you captured exactly why, all these years later, AI is still alive and well (or well-ish).

    I’m so impressed and happy to see Crystal use her exposure on AI to promote causes that are important to her, and important for us to hear about.

  15. We can end this practice, very easily. Just do not ever tolerate it.

    That’s what we need to do but it’s a heck of a lot easier said than done, unfortunately.

    Many of those who bully are either the cool, strong, rich kids or the really angry kids, and many many adults — not just kids — are inclined to overlook bullying committed by kids (and adults) in these categories. In real-world situations, including in many families as well as in schools, for example, you find virtually noone of any age or even of any level of official authority who will actually stand up to bullying, and the ones who do often find themselves standing up all alone, which doesn’t stop it. It just moves it to another venue.

    I was a teacher for many years and too often had kids tell me that they didn’t pick on each other in my presence but “you should see how mean we are to each other when you aren’t around.”

  16. This makes me very sad and feel even more insecure about having my kid going to school here in this country… Just glad that Crystal turns out ok and am very proud of her!

  17. Many of those who bully are either the cool, strong, rich kids or the really angry kids, and many many adults — not just kids — are inclined to overlook bullying committed by kids (and adults) in these categories. In real-world situations, including in many families as well as in schools, for example, you find virtually noone of any age or even of any level of official authority who will actually stand up to bullying, and the ones who do often find themselves standing up all alone, which doesn’t stop it. It just moves it to another venue.

    Yup. And, there are as many adult bullies as kid ones, they just tend to be better and (less visible) at it. Sad, but true.

  18. Yup. And, there are as many adult bullies as kid ones, they just tend to be better and (less visible) at it. Sad, but true.

    Let’s face it, you can see bullying behaviour on some of the various blogs out there. I’m glad Crystal is addressing this issue. The more people speak out, the more it will be socially unacceptable to be a bully.

  19. Very moving, reading that story.

    I remember when I was in primary school/elementary school, we used to pick someone to bully. Of course at the time we didn’t understand what were doing or what was bullying or anything, but there were a bunch of us that would just decide to pick on someone for whatever reason and then the rest of the class would just join because we were sort of the “leaders”. Looking back it obviously makes me think how awful it must have been for that person who, for a day or more, would just be mocked by the other kids. But at the time we really didn’t have any notion and we weren’t bad people. We were just kids and we’d do it when we knew teachers weren’t around.
    Not one of those kids ever complained to the teachers. All these stories about bullying just made me think of that. Anyway, nothing bad ever really happened, but sometimes it’s really difficult to stop these situations. Maybe the most important thing is to let kids know that they should talk about these situations and not keep it to themselves.
    Of course when this happens in high school or college, the kids have to take responsability. They know what they’re doing at that age.

    I think it’s great that people who have gone through that and have passed that share these stories and maybe inspire those who see it happening and do nothing make it stop, or those who are going through it to talk to someone, etc…

  20. Let’s face it, you can see bullying behaviour on some of the various blogs out there.

    I agree, I’ve seen a lot of cyberbullying on various website and blogs. I’ve seen it happen on the different blogs and places like Twitter, where people can post hateful messages to other people on their Twitter feed. Especially during and after Season 8 of Idol. And during other times as well.

    It’s something when you can get a sense of how hateful some people are/can be by just reading some of the stuff they type.

    I am glad that Crystal and more people are speaking out on this subject. And I am glad to see that things have gotten much better for her. Bullying in places like schools, on the internet, and just in general needs to be discussed and dealt with IMO.

  21. Kids can be very mean.
    I think you can’t eliminate bullying from children. I think its just something that will happen when you get enough kids together. All you can do is educate kids on what is bullying and have adults around who know how to nip it in the bud when a kid tells them is happening.

  22. I think that Ellen DeGeneres said it best when she said that “Bullies are losers”.

    ETA:

    Anyway, nothing bad ever really happened, but sometimes it’s really difficult to stop these situations.

    I think that it’s very hard to know what the negative consequences of bullying are, at any level.

  23. Crystal is an amazing person. She seems like someone who is using their Idol fame to promote lots of great causes.

  24. Her story just makes me so sad. For every kid who makes it out of that situation in a relatively healthy way, we have no idea how many there are who don’t. Thank God she had music as an outlet, because apparently she was getting it at home and at school. No adult should have to live through that, let alone a child.

  25. The gang mentality is what makes bullying so pervasive and so attractive to people in general. Feeling a part of something, even something negative is a powerful emotion. Ramp that up a hundredfold for kids who are seeking identity in a group.

    I always got Crystal, and I saw so much depth in her by her song choices and the way she delivered them and presented herself. She certainly hasn’t proven me wrong as my admiration of her has only increased since the finale of season 9. I also identify with her when she says that she manipulated her illness as she saw the hospital as a safe haven. I did that as well as a child and spent a large part of 5 grade in the hospital and doctors offices to escape the bullying. I have alway told my children that bullying was unacceptable and that if I caught them having any parts of this pack mentality that they would have to deal with me. So far they’ve proven themselves to be kind and considerate human beings and for that I am grateful.

  26. I just read this on after Ellen

    According to our brother site, AfterElton.com, “The Lot Project wants gay teens to know that whatever torment they’re going through now — it only gets worse in hell, where they’ll face eternal damnation for their sinful homosexual lifestyle.”
    JFC!

  27. You know, I do think Crystal is what Idol is supposed to be about – and it’s why I still kinda almost sorta believe in it now and then. She’s an amazing young lady and good for her for getting out there and sharing what she’s been through and trying to give back. I was bullied in middle school to the point I hated to even go to school and it’s a miserable feeling. I try to keep an open dialogue with my kids and also stay active in their school so I can have a dialogue with their teachers as well.

    The Lot Project wants gay teens to know that whatever torment they’re going through now — it only gets worse in hell, where they’ll face eternal damnation for their sinful homosexual lifestyle.”

    OK, see, I was just reading something about those psycho Westwood Baptist freaks protesting a funeral of a soldier at Arlington with their hate and I was wondering how on EARTH anyone who preaches hate could ever, ever call themselves a Christian with a straight face. Hate, judgment… it goes against the very basic teachings of Jesus. How convenient to forget about that when you want to spew your own personal prejudices and hate in the name of God.

  28. My heart goes out to Crystal and I’m proud of her for having the courage to tell her story so publicly in order to help others.

    I was from a poor and large family and also had various health problems. Yep, I got bullied a lot. I never considered suicide, but wished I would just die more times than I like to admit. My Dad would tell me to ‘kill them with kindness’. It does get better.

  29. Crystal for refusing to allow her hardship to be used to gain sympathy votes.

    How do you know she refused? Maybe TPTB didn’t know about it

    I have a strong feeling that the Idols are pumped with questions and Crystal had many opportunities to bring this to the open. But it doesn´t surprise me that she chose not too. The only times she´s mentioned anything about all the things she´s been through, is when it could benefit others. She never complains about what is already done and can´t be changed. She might complain about something that can still be changed, like release date of her CD, but then she´s attacked, called arrogant, naive and ungrateful etc….oh well, such is life and human nature

  30. I hope that all the PSA’s we have seen lately with The Trevor/It Gets Better Projects will continue on and not be forgotten after a week. I don’t know if anyone noticed this but I was on Perez Hilton’s website today out of boredom and noticed that he seems to be backing off of the bullying HE normally does. he hasn’t drawn any bad pictures on anyone or made cruel comments that I can see and I looked back about 5 pages. baby steps, but still a little progress :)

  31. Wow. Very moving. I have a lot of admiration for Crystal. You never know what someone’s story is. Awesome that she shared this.

  32. sr4- I did read that- I think it was in Huffpo or something. I had forgotten all about the Dustin Lance Black incident until that article reminded me. Perez did EXACTLY what those two Rutgers students did to Tyler Clementi. I remember when that happened- I even registered at his site at the time to express my utter disgust with him. And the stuff he would say about Demi Moores daughter almost daily was just as disgusting. I am just hoping that all the backlash he is getting will make him see the error of his ways.

    His next step should be moderating some of the comments on his site- those bottomfeeders are the worst of the worst.

  33. I posted Crystal’s essay on my facebook page in hopes that at least one of my teacher friends (as well as parents) read it to their students and/or offspring. Although I am retired, I work part time with high school kids and plan to share it with them. Hopefully others will do the same.

  34. Siobhan was bullied a lot too. These 2 girls have lots in common.

  35. QUOTE: “Many of those who bully are either the cool, strong, rich kids or the really angry kids, and many many adults — not just kids — are inclined to overlook bullying committed by kids (and adults) in these categories”

    KIds who SEEM cool, strong and rich can also be really angry. My daughter had an extremely thoughtless friend who seemed to have everything. She treated my daughter very poorly and I disliked her very much until I found out that this girl who seemed to have it all (money, looks, personality and brains) endured her own private hell.

    This teenager had to call 911 more than once as her depressed and melancholy mother continually threatened to commit suicide. Along the way, she went through some very bumpy times but is now a happy, well adjusted adult.

    To this day people think of my daughter’s friend as a girl who had everything handed to her on a silver platter without realizing what she went through. The moral of the story is: Don’t judge anyone until you have walked a mile in their moccasins! Easily said, but sometimes hard to practice.

  36. All bullies, whether the angry kids, the “cool” kids or the internet trolls, have one thing in common: the self-esteem of a staple.

    The message these anti-bullying campaigns need to get out is, “If you’re going to pick on someone, you may as well tattoo a big-ass L on your forehead right now, because that’s what everyone is going to assume you are.”

  37. Crystal has a lot of strength and character. I admire her for having come through what she’s been through with her head held high, having made herself a better person for it, and now wanting to use her fame to make the world a better place. She is honest, brave, smart, strong, and caring. What she wrote was heartbreaking, heartfelt, and beautiful. Kudos to her.

  38. I am glad to see Crystal share her story and shed awareness on bullying. I also echo the sentiment that bullying is not just for kids at school but that it happens everywhere in adult life both in person and online. I’ve personally been affected by bullying in more ways than one and it never truly goes away. I hope to see Crystal speaking out on this issue more in the future.

  39. Its great that Crystal is sharing her personal experiences for a good cause. She seems to have a strong passion for causes and I’m pretty sure that she will be doing more of this in the future. Kudos to her.

  40. Just this evening on my YAHOO HOME PAGE there was a news artical
    about a Ohio High School that had 4 teen suicides just this last year. Read it if you have it. It is so heartbreaking, and it is within the state Crystle lived in.
    All four deaths were due to bullying and were precieved as horendous
    by each of these kids who kept telling their parents who in turn
    some were actively telling the school principle who gave pats on the back and never did a thing. These parents are now, also, left
    with their own guilt, of not doing enough, or taking the child out
    of the system.

    I know there is a whole culture of Adults that have no sympathy for their own kids when bullied and are angry when their child does not
    stand up to the bullies and give as good as they get. I also know a few other Adults have no idea that thier children are bullies.
    I have a sister and brother inlaw fit this slot very well as they
    are bullies themselves…esp the husband. Unfortunately most of her family will not invite them to family celebrations and well it just gets to be a sad unspoken fact every feast day!
    I have so much admiration for Crystle and I think she has just become stronger and better because what doesn’t kill us makes us
    into tempered steel. Congrats also on your’s and Tony’s wedding. I
    believe you will have a wonderful life together!!

  41. Wow, Crystal’s story is very moving. I’m glad she is sharing it and may be able to help and inspire others out there.

    All bullies, whether the angry kids, the “cool” kids or the internet trolls, have one thing in common: the self-esteem of a staple.

    Actually, there are studies that have been done that show it is not necessarily a self esteem issue. Many bullies are not insecure – they just lack empathy for others.

  42. We can end this practice, very easily. Just do not ever tolerate it.

    Bullies can also threaten that you remain silent or face further
    consequences; I know this first hand.
    Do they still have home room in HS? Maybe segments such as this one can be shown to students on their home room day, as well as the segment Ellen had on her show the other week.

  43. The whole dannyisadouche thing was done in retaliation of Danny’s alleged bullying of someone else. It really doesn’t make it okay, but just sayin.

  44. I think Crystal’s story shows how important the arts are for children from impoverished backgrounds. Music and art nourish the soul, provide an outlet for creativity and an ability to transcend yourself and your circumstances in a way that drugs and alcohol could never do. Crystal truely is an amazing young woman. It’s great her story is being told on Anderson Cooper.

  45. Siobhan was bullied a lot too. These 2 girls have lots in common.

    S0n0fLucy, yes Siobhan was bullied for being different in the way she dressed and her quirkness. Although her family was large and lower income, they are a tight knit family. Siobhan had a good family to support her.

    It is horrible what those kids did to Crystal, and then to know that she didn’t have a loving family to be there for her. Her story is so moving and she is truly an amazing young lady. I wish her the very best with her career and married life!

  46. The whole dannyisadouche thing was done in retaliation of Danny’s alleged bullying of someone else. It really doesn’t make it okay, but just sayin

    I don’t think that Danny was doing that. But I think that regardless of what people thought he did or didn’t do, people shouldn’t have cyberbullied and emotionally abused him. Which IMHO, is what happened to him. I’ve seen/heard of other situations where this sort of thing happens, and sometimes even worse stuff happens as a result of it.

    I remember that story about the mother who used Myspace to bully a teenager and the teenager committed suicide as a result of that. I think that mother thought the girl was saying bad stuff about her kid. But regardless of what the girl might or might not have said about her kid, she still shouldn’t have used myspace to bully her.

    You never know what type of an effect participating in stuff like cyberbullying can do to a person. Especially people that are already going through a rough time or who could be mentally unstable.

    But yet people will use stuff like social networking sites, to harass, attack, bully and abuse people. And sometimes they will do it in the name of defending people they think they need to defend. But it’s not right either way, IMO.

    I wish there were stricter rules to prevent this type of thing, but people can really say/do anything they want to other people on places like Twitter. And harrass and bully them until/unless they are blocked.

  47. The whole dannyisadouche thing was done in retaliation of Danny’s alleged bullying of someone else.

    Yes, not only was the whole thing a smear compaign (Danny did nothing untoward at all, much less bullying), it’s become pretty apparent he is the antithesis of a bullying, hateful person. The pertinent word here is alleged.

    Which is the sad part; people can take anything alleged or gossiped, whether false or true (blown out of proportion) and start a hate campaign on the internet. It is a huge problem and given the precious status of our free speech, I don’t know what the answer is.

    Kudos to Crystal for doing this segment; I cried at her story. Especially since I have a daughter with Juvenile diabetes since the age of 5 and just imagined her in Crystal’s shoes.

    Every kid who is different or “nerdy” needs to listen to celebrities talk about this. I just love when celebrities admit to being the “uncool” kids so that they can help teens cope.

  48. I’ve seen other scenarios where people have ganged up on other people on Twitter and cyberbullied/and harassed them. Just because they don’t like certain people for whatever reasons.

    So true. Even though Justin Bieber certainly isn’t my type of performer, I know he gets a lot of hate on Twitter. After one particularly nasty day of it I was happy to see Danny Gokey tweet “I have Bieber fever- don’t hate”.

    I wish more celebrities like Crystal would bring focus to this problem. If it becomes “uncool” to hate on the Internet or in real life more kids (and unfortunately, so many of the adults who take part) would think twice about doing it.

  49. Which is the sad part; people can take anything alleged or gossiped, whether false or true (blown out of proportion) and start a hate campaign on the internet. It is a huge problem and given the precious status of our free speech, I don’t know what the answer is.

    I think that maybe places like Twitter should have a more visible report feature. like something on the main page and each page with featuring tweets where someone can report, threatening, harassing or abusive messages.

    There is a place where you can report a violation but it’s not that visible. You can find it under the “Help section”. There is also a list of the rules, one that you can’t threaten violence against people.

    But I didn’t really see anything about doing something about people continously harassing other people. People can block people on Twitter, but some of the people getting blocked just go on and harass/cyberbully other users.

    I’ve seen other hate campaigns started against celebs, and I think sometimes Twitter does pull that stuff. But I do wish they would do more about preventing that sort of thing.

    I wish more celebrities like Crystal would bring focus to this problem. If it becomes “uncool” to hate on the Internet or in real life more kids (and unfortunately, so many of the adults who take part) would think twice about doing it.

    ITA.

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