In her various acting roles, Michelle Trachtenberg has been the villain (see: Gossip Girl’s Georgina Sparks) and the victim (check out her upcoming turn as Marina Oswald, wife of Lee Harvey Oswald, in Killing Kennedy, based on the book by Bill O’Reilly, premiering Nov. 10 on the National Geographic Channel.) But it was her real-life experiences of being bullied in school that led her to partner with Stomp Out Bullying, an organization that works to prevent bullying in all forms through education, providing assistance, and raising awareness.
“I try never to go into great deep lengths [about my bullying] because I never want anything to be a sob story, but I was bullied from the moment that I can remember stepping into a school,” she told InStyle.com. “I was physically pushed down stairs, thrown into lockers; there were groups of kids that would spread horrible rumors about me. I like to say I was never popular, but everyone knew my name.”
And so Stomp Out Bullying’s mission hits close to home for the 27-year-old. While she notes that Stomp Out Bullying has information and resources on its website for kids and adults, she has her own advice for those currently dealing with the increasingly hot-button issue. “Their words cannot kill you,” she says, noting how in high school she kept a piece of paper in her locker that read, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” “If you hurt yourself, you let them win. For me, I would repeat to myself, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ Because that’s all they want. If you look at it, sadly, as a competition, their words hurting you is them winning. Why would you ever want to let them win? You’re stronger than that.”
Many of us have had experiences like Trachtenberg’s, and while you may have felt helpless then, you don’t have to now. On Monday October 7, you can show your support for Stomp Out Bullying’s cause by simply wearing a blue shirt—any blue shirt, we’ve even picked out a few pieces for you—to let bullies know they won’t win. (Why now and why blue? Because October is National Bully Prevention Month, and the color represents peace.)
Trachtenberg certainly hasn’t let the bullies claim victory. In fact, one of her coping mechanisms at the time—escaping into a good book—is helping expand her career. While she couldn’t reveal details, she told us she has a few projects in the works where she’s writing and producing all the material. “I was very much the girl who would read a book alone at lunch,” she says. “I feel like spending all of my time in school reading every book I could get my hands on really helped me to become the writer I am now.”