SPEAKING UP: Brenden Summers says the bullying and violence he suffered at a Gympie high school had a life long impact on him.
SPEAKING UP: Brenden Summers says the bullying and violence he suffered at a Gympie high school had a life long impact on him. Contributed

Man tells of life-long impact of nightmare school bullying

IN HIGH school Brenden Summers was physically strong and a high-performing junior athlete, but it was not enough to stop his school yard tormentors violently making his life hell for five years.

Now 43 years old, the former Gympie State High School student and grandson of late Gympie world champion axeman Vic Summers, said his story is almost unbelievable.

"I was often assaulted in woodworking class where one student would hold a chisel to my throat while another student would punch me as hard as he could in the stomach,” he said.

Brenden Summers in high school
Brenden Summers in high school Contributed

"This took place whenever the teacher was out of the room. The funny part of it was, I was on the sports page on and off for wood chopping. I was in the Queensland men's team but I was still a target.”

In the playground he was swung at from behind at any time while a small circle egged on the bully. His only survival technique was to avoid certain school areas or make sure he did not walk alone to class.

As well as receiving busted lips, black eyes and bruised ribs, the teen lived under a cloud of anxiety and depression. He hated going to school, but telling someone only put him at higher risk, he said.

"It's the same as domestic violence - you hide it, you are embarrassed by it, you make excuses for it,” he said.

Brenden Summers competing.
Brenden Summers competing. Contributed

Mr Summers, who is now a heavy haul train driver based at Newcastle, said the experience had a life-long effect on him.

"This stuff does stay with you. I've been finished school 26 years (but) it's still like yesterday.

"Your confidence definitely drops even when you leave school. You doubt yourself going for job interviews and in a lot of other ways.

"It's like a depression I think that still hangs over you.”

Horrified by the number of recent local bullying stories, he felt compelled to tell his story.

Former Gympie student Brenden Summers ready for his high school formal in 1993.
Former Gympie student Brenden Summers ready for his high school formal in 1993. Contributed

"It's embarrassing to speak about these things, (but) did this girl get what she copped because people like me have not spoken up over the years?”

He said students needed a way to discreetly tell those in authority what was happening. They also needed to know there was life after high school, he said.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel; you can still make something of your life.”