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Tampa Bay bullying victims learn to have no shame

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DUNEDIN, FL (WFLA) -

They know what it feels like to hide in the school bathroom, while the rest of their classmates eat lunch in the cafeteria. Now a group of bullying victims are sharing their own struggles in an effort to fight stigma.

"A bruise can go away and it heals up, but those words stay forever with you," said participant Camila Pulido.

Related story: Polk Sheriff Judd announces arrests in bullying case

The non-profit social services agency Directions for Living created the campaign. It's called No Shame. Some people who've spent their lives being judged by others are sharing the reasons behind their ridicule in a very public way, both online and in person.

Related story: Anti-bullying expert speaks about cyber-bullying issues.

"I have first hand experience with Tourette's and OCD and all these mental health disorders that I've been through my whole life," explained participant Chad Carpenter.

Carpenter said it was difficult to join the movement and share his story, but he's glad he found the courage.

"It makes me feel better, like I'm doing something to give back, something that I know I have the knowledge of," said Carpenter.

He recently joined a panel of other Directions for Living clients at an assembly at Dunedin High School.

Related: Bullying Resources & Experts

"It just builds and builds and builds, the anxiety and tension throughout your whole life," Carpenter explained to the students. "The stress at the pit of your stomach. The white pale face on yourself after you look up."

Some of the students were so moved by the presentation, they plan to start a No Shame club on campus.

"You get to maybe change someone's perspective on how they're living life and how they treat other people," said Pulido.

Related: Signs a child is being bullied

No Shame has several events planned throughout the Bay area in October for National Bullying Prevention month. They say they're making it easy for everyone to get involved.

"Just by using the #noshame and telling your story, sharing a photo or a video, speaking up, speaking out, locally to each other," explained Directions for Living's Director of Marketing Summer Lott.

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