Woman shares story of how peer bullying led to eating disorder

A 20-year-old woman shared how bullying led her to anorexia in a school assembly at Frenship Middle School last Wednesday.

Chelsey Knight, who now lives in Lubbock, shared her story of how she ended up at Remuda Ranch in Arizona, a treatment center for anorexia and bulimia. Her problems started with peer bullying, she said.

“The term sticks and stones is a total sham. Words hurt,” said Knight to the students gathered in the FMS auditorium.

She moved to a very small Texas town as a teen. Although her older sister was accepted there, she never fit in, she said.

“I lived in a town where I was blacklisted for reasons I did not understand,” said Knight. “I turned to food and exercise to gain control.”

She grew obsessed with weight-loss and exercise, she said. When people commented on her weight loss initially, she thought it would help her to gain acceptance.

As she seemed to turn into a different person at home and didn’t get along with her family members, eventually they decided she needed help. They did not tell her before they scheduled the trip to the Remuda Ranch because she said her mother was afraid she would hurt herself or leave rather than go.

At the treatment center, she said she spent Thanksgiving and Christmas away from her family and had few opportunities to call home. But she got better, she said, because God and her family never gave up on her.

“God’s grace and his love for me was stronger than my hate for myself,” she said.

To this day, she said she still struggles with anorexia.

Knight told the students if they are experiencing peer bullying, let someone know. But she also asked that teachers and staff members take such complaints seriously.

“You are valued. You are special. You are loved,” she said to the FMS students.

The students in the auditorium were quiet as she spoke, but applauded when she finished. Frenship Middle School administrators presented Knight with red roses.

Before she spoke, Principal Jerry Jerabek told students that he remembers being bullied in middle school.

“My goal, my hope for you today, is that this will change some of your lives,” he said.

After Knight spoke, Jerabek said he hoped the students took her message to heart.

“If there’s one thing we could eradicate from this school, I wish it would be bullying,” he said. “If you are one of those people that’s been cruel, be big enough to apologize.”

Knight said after the assembly that it was her first time to speak publicly about her experience, but she hopes to continue speaking out.

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