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Rising Stars: Meet Victoria DiNatale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Victoria DiNatale.

Hi Victoria , we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
“My name is Victoria! It means victorious!” I vibrantly tell an eager group of high school students. I can see a glimmer of hope on their young faces, and my mission is accomplished – with a microphone as my main tool. As a motivational speaker, my purpose is to help bullies rethink the damaging consequences of bullying – and to let bullying victims know that they are not alone.

My hope is that, through my anti-bullying message, STANDING VICTORIOUS™, each student walks away with a sense of empowerment, hope, and help. After all, I felt neither hopeful or helped as a middle or high school student who was mercilessly bullied at the hands of my peers.

At 12 years old, I was tormented on a daily basis. I was laughed at, mocked, excluded, and verbally taunted by a group of students who recruited others against me. The bullying was so pervasive that I developed serious health consequences, including a stress cough and multiple hospitalizations. I suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was ill for 2 years.

What the bullies did not know then was that their actions of cruelty could not – and would not – stop me from achieving my passion in life, which is to help others in a big way.

At age 19, I began my anti-bullying campaign and traveled across the Southeastern United States spreading bullying prevention in school assemblies, universities, churches, and civic events. With each student that I helped rethink their actions of bullying, my pain seemed worth it.

Although it was never okay how I was treated at 12 years old, it wasn’t in vain. Because of those painful experiences as a child, I now have a purpose, and that purpose is to save lives.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Being a motivational speaker has not been a bump-free ride. Just because my job is to motivate those around me does not mean that my life has always felt motivational – nor has it been free from adversity. Over the years, I have experienced hardship, trials, and suffering that have deterred me – and even stopped me for a period of years from sharing my gift of motivational speaking with the world.

There was this moment in my life when I realized that to motivate others, I had to first motivate myself. I had to work on myself, pick up the broken parts of myself, and decide that nothing would stop me from accomplishing what God intended me to do.

Nothing would stop me from using my ability to speak and save lives.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As a motivational speaker, I travel the southeastern United States spreading bullying prevention – with the goal of one day taking my message to each of the fifty states. I share my powerful message of hope and help with children, teens, and adults in school assemblies, universities, and civic events – all from the perspective of a former bullying victim turned victor.

But as a speaker, my job is not just to speak. It is also to listen.

Over the years, I have heard many stories from students who want help – at school, at home, in their neighborhoods. They are looking for a reason to continue when their lives are full of ups and downs and uncertainty with friends, school, and where they want to go in life. These students simply want a way out of the pain.

My hope is that STANDING VICTORIOUS™ gives these students a reason to continue to better times ahead. My hope is that my story gives them a reason to take one more breath.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
As a bullying victim, many of the adults in my life failed me – The teacher, the school administration, and others who knew were happening to me all turned a blind eye to my suffering. But there were also some exceptional adults in my life who stood up for me when no one else would.

My family deserves all the gold medals in the world for rallying to my aid and defending me. They believed me. They took care of me when I was physically ill from the effects of bullying. They never backed down. There was also a state senator who quickly became an ally. She heard my story, had empathy for me and my family, and mentored me. She became a friend – someone I quickly looked up to over the years.

I also met a powerful news anchor in the Savannah community who interviewed me as a 12-year-old girl in the shadows. She helped tell my story when I didn’t have a voice. For her powerful voice, which defended the defenseless, I will always be grateful.

I want to show bullying victims through my experience that for every person who does not believe or help them – There is always someone who will.

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Image Credits

Richard Weiler

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