Jackie Sannia Bullying and Australian Teenage Expo Interview
2013 The Voice finalist from Team Delta, Jackie Sannia has combined forces with the Australian Teenage Expo to join the fight to help put a stop to bullying.
Having experienced bullying first hand, Jackie understands all too well the devastating effects it can have on an individual's quality of life.
'It really effects every single aspect of your world; from when you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed. It can control you," she said.
To be where she is today, Jackie has overcome the effects of bullying and through hard work and perseverance she has been able to move on from self-harm and suicide attempts to become an anti-bullying advocate.
'It took me a long time to overcome the way I had been treated and that's why I have partnered with ATE; we all need to speak out about bullying - stand up to the negative people out there and address this ugly truth about Australian culture.
'I was in a very bad place and couldn't see a way out. I want to let people know that the tormenting will end, you will overcome this and there are people out here to offer you support.
'The Australian Teenage Expo initiative is a cause that is truly close to my heart. If, by sharing my story and standing up to the face of bullying can help just one person to change their life, then that would be a truly beautiful thing."
Australian Teenage Expo Co-Founder, Sacha Kaluri said two in five people experience bullying during their life, and the majority of victims never speak out about it.
'Bullying victims are often afraid of being judged, ridiculed or subjected to even worse tormenting if someone finds out that they've spoken up," Sacha said.
'Bullying leads to a whole variety of issues including self-esteem problems, tendencies to self-harm, self-destructive behaviour and in some devastating situations, suicide, so it is vital that we as a society, do something about it."
'The bullying culture in Australia needs to be taken seriously and that is why the Australian Teenage Expo exists; to give teens a safe place where they can seek information and support in an environment where everyone is free to be themselves."
The Australian Teenage Expo will run from Thursday 29th of August through to Saturday 31 of August at the Melbourne Showgrounds.
Jackie Sannia warmed the hearts of Australians when she performed a soulful rendition of Birdy's -Help the people' in the The Voice blind auditions. She will be performing on the main stage and lending her advice to budding singers on Saturday 31 August, at ATE's final day, which is open to the public. For more information please visit www.teenageexpo.com.au or visit www.facebook.com/AustralianTeenageExpo
Interview with Jackie Sannia
Question: Why was it important for you to become involved with The Australian Teenage Expo as an anti-bullying advocate?
Jackie Sannia: I don't think that bullying and the consequences of it are taken seriously in high schools, the message is resounding in most primary school's I've visited but gets replaced with a myriad of other social issues and one of the most damaging ones is deemed 'common sense." I think that Australian teenagers need a platform to speak up about bullying and bullying related issues in a place just for them.
Question: Have you been a victim of bullying?
Jackie Sannia: I have, from crèche til valedictory across two different schools.
Question: Can you tell us about your experience with bullying?
Jackie Sannia: I was teased a lot when I was little being the short, chubby, ethnic looking one in an all girl's private school, but after my parents got divorced the bullying became multi-level, the parents of my classmates would gossip, their children would pick on me and it became racial, classist abuse both emotional and physical. It was a near unbreakable cycle and after being hospitalized I moved schools.
After a few weeks as the new girl at another school I became the easy target once again, new, unpopular, short, chubby, ethnic looking and book smart. But I think the worse kind of bullying is that in high school, when you're a teenager you're trying to come to terms with who you are, and usually you're insecure and sadly in a lot of schools kids turn to bullying others to mask their insecurities. They project their hatred of themselves onto others.
Question: Can you talk us through the damage this bullying caused you?
Jackie Sannia: I was diagnosed with depressive illness at a very young age, battle with a lot of self-harm thoughts from around age eight which is far too young for anyone to be thinking that way. I starved myself in eighth grade and at fourteen I started self-harming with anything I could find, a few weeks into year 10 I tried to kill myself, that year I attempted nine times. Over the next two years it was over 20. Looking back it's a miracle I'm still alive.
Question: How did you overcome the bullying you were exposed to?
Jackie Sannia: I can't deny that I didn't handle it well, I was very damaged due to home issues as well but I think the minute you give up, and let them win, thinking that it's normal and it's always going to happen to you is the worst possible conclusion to come to. For me I overcame it slowly, I always had music in my life but I started singing in particular; I found an outlet where I could express myself freely and slowly garnered respect for it.
Question: Were you surprised to be told that two in five people are bullied?
Jackie Sannia: Sadly no, but it's a reminder that something really needs to be done about it.
Question: What do you hope teenagers that attend The Australian Teenage Expo will take away from the event?
Jackie Sannia: The courage to stand up for themselves, the belief that they are just as worthy as anyone else in that room, the understanding that bullying is everywhere it just depends how you deal with it, and that there's nothing wrong with standing up for yourself.
Question: What advice do you have for young girls who may be being bullied, at the moment?
Jackie Sannia: There's a beautiful quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that I've had as my background for a few months now – 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" – and it's so simple and true! Don't let jealous, insecure people get you down, it's their problem not yours. Every time they put you down just remember that you're the better person, there's no need to retaliate, you're already one step ahead because you're not the one harassing someone.
Question: Many victims are scared to speak out; what would you say to these girls?
Jackie Sannia: Speak up and tell someone, there's no harm in standing up for yourself, and you could be helping other people being bullied by the same person without even knowing it. You're stronger than you think, it's not an easy thing to do but the right path in life is never easy.
Question: What did your time on The Voice, teach you about yourself?
Jackie Sannia: That bullying doesn't stop after high school. When you put yourself in the public domain on a TV show like The Voice, which has an audience of over 3 million per episode, of course someone isn't going to like you – I was bullied by total strangers online repeatedly! But I've really learnt to be more resilient, at the end of the day I'm proud of what I've achieved – I now have more confidence in my abilities, my future as a singer and that I'm proud of the person I've become.
Question: What's next for you, in regards to your career?
Jackie Sannia: Lately I've been touring primary schools giving talks and performing and this month I've started recording an album, I'm planning on releasing a single soon too!
Interview by Brooke Hunter