A Caroline Springs teenager has turned a harrowing experience into the catalyst for change.
Monique Mastrobattista, 14, suffered at the hands of bullies after transferring to a new school in 2016 and said the experience had a lasting affect on her.
“I had a very bad case of bullying in 2016. I moved to a new school and didn’t know anyone and got really badly bullied,” she said.
“I developed really bad anxiety from it and had a really bad stutter.”
However, instead of letting the experience haunt her, Ms Mastrobattista has used it as an opportunity to start a bigger conversation.
“I was seeing a psychologist and since I couldn’t talk, she told me to write down my feelings.
“As I was writing these feelings down, it slowly started to turn into something bigger.”
From Ms Mastrobattista’s notes emerged
My Discreet Bully, an illustrated book which provides an insight into the scourge of bullying.
“It’s based on my own experience so it wasn’t very difficult for me to write,” she said.
“After that, we contacted an illustrator, a publishing company and things started to happen. Now the book is here, we’re trying to get it into as many schools as we possibly can.”
Since releasing her book, Ms Mastrobattista, who is now homeschooled, has taken her message to schools around Victoria and even overseas.
“I’ve gone into a few schools in Victoria and done a bit of a talk with the students, answered questions and done some signings – I think it really made a difference that these students were being spoken to by a younger person and not an adult,” she said. “I actually had the mother of one boy send me a message saying she hasn’t seen him this happy in a long time and the talk really helped.
“That absolutely made my day, if this even helps just one person it’s all worthwhile.”
Ms Mastrobattista has also started an online kindness campaign.
“Bullying isn’t just confined to the school, there’s a huge cyber bullying problem these days too,” she said. “This isn’t just a behavioral problem now and I think we need to find new ways to tackle it or it will continue to grow.”
My Discreet Bully is available in book stores and on online at www.getkind.net