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Following the string of gay teen suicides stemming from bullying, national awareness of the disturbing trend is at an all-time high. Many celebs have spoken out about the crisis (including Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris), and Susan Boyle is the latest star to share her painful experiences with bullying.
On Tuesday the singing sensation opened up about her past torment during a visit to The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Boyle, 49, became an overnight star after her stirring 2009 appearance on Britain's Got Talent when her amazing rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" silenced snickers from the crowd and rolled eyes from the judges. But the taunts about Boyle's unconventional looks and manners started long before her big break.
"(High school bullies were) burning my clothes with a cigarette and stuff like that and trying to trip me up," the Scottish singer revealed to Winfrey. "It wasn't really human. I was being hit around the head, stuff like that."
The singer, who also said she was a victim of repeated name-calling, opened up about the devastating effects bullying had. "It made me feel as if nobody loved me. I really didn't matter," she said. "I was just a target. Once you give bullies that power, they've really got a hold on you."
But unlike many tortured teens who don't have an outlet for their pain, Boyle found music. She explained that while she couldn't physically or emotionally fight back, she used her talent as a tool.
"What you do is you do well in something and you try and gain their respect in some way, and that's what I was trying to do with my singing," she said.
Of course, the joke is on those bullies now. Boyle had one of the best-selling albums of 2009 and is currently promoting her second album, The Gift, as well as her memoir title The Woman I Was Born to Be.
Thankfully, Boyle's success has helped her feel better about herself. "I feel loved," she told Winfrey. "And that's something I didn't feel when I was younger."
Were you bullied as a teen? Chime in below.