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My Experience With Childhood Bullying Allowed Me to Help Someone Else

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This piece was written by Natalia Siam, Forever 21 model, author and student.

A simple question like “are you OK?” can make such a big difference to someone who needs to hear it. Sometimes people just need to talk and open up to someone they trust. 

You don’t have to have all the answers. Just be there to listen, don’t judge them and check in again later.

As someone who experienced bullying as a child, I know how important it is to be there for other people. I had an experience a few years ago when someone I went to school with was in a really bad place. I could see she was upset and I wanted to help.

She wasn’t one of my closest friends but that didn’t matter, she really needed someone. I approached her and asked her if she wanted to talk about what was going on. She said no at first, but then slowly she started to open up to me. I ended up staying with her for three hours until she was feeling better about things and had decided to talk with her family about the problem.

Much later, she thanked me and told me that sitting with her and listening that day made a huge difference and had given her the courage to go and get help. I’m sharing this because even though just sitting with someone and listening to them doesn’t sound like such a big deal, it really can be to the other person. All I did was listen and give her my time. I am so glad I did.

Be sure to check in and ask R U OK? to the people in your world. If they don’t seem like themselves, ask them about it. And ask twice if you have to. Just be there for them.

I sometimes use the acronym “ALEC” to help me remember how to start a conversation:

A: Ask “are you ok?”

L: Listen without judgment

E: Encourage action

C: Check in with them later

R U OK? is a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. R U OK? Day is a national day of action, held on the second Thursday of September each year. But every day is the day to start a conversation. Conversation tips and crisis numbers can be found at

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Screenshot via R U OK? Youtube channel.

Originally published: March 15, 2017
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