Derek Hough Reveals Childhood Bullying Pain: They “Held A Gun To My Head”
Derek Hough opened up about the horrific bullying he endured as a child while accepting an award at the GLSEN Respect Awards gala in Los Angeles on Friday.
The “Dancing with the Stars” pro revealed that his youth included some terrifying treatment at the hands of bullies, including a particularly violent episode that still haunts him.
“On one occasion, they would tie my ankles up with a very rough rope, hang me from a tree upside-down, spit on me, call me names, and even held a gun to my head,” recalled Hough.
He added, “Coming from a family of hunters, I assumed the gun was real. I didn’t tell anybody — [not] my parents or teachers or friends or sisters.”
The dancer said he realizes now that the “worst thing” a victim of bullying can do is to “suffer in silence.”
“Let me tell you right now, you are not alone,” Hough told the crowd. “Seeking help requires incredible strength and courage. The most powerful weapon you have against bullying is your voice.”
He continued, “The more I learned throughout the years about kids’ behavior, the more I learned that the negativity they project is just a reflection of who they are.”
“Bullying can be physical, verbal or emotional. Words and threats are just as painful as fists, especially with social media these days,” explained Hough, who said that dancing became his “safe place” away from bullies, where he could “grow and flourish.”
Earlier in the day, Hough spoke to “Good Morning America” about his experience as the victim of bullying (see video below).