Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
She's earned the world's admiration, but Susan says she was bullied relentlessly while growing up. "[Bullies were] burning my clothes with a cigarette and stuff like that and trying to trip me up," she says. "It wasn't really human. I was being hit around the head, stuff like that."
Though she was physically hurt, Susan says the psychological damage of bullying is more painful. "[There was] really repeated name calling," she says. "It made me feel as if nobody loved me. I really didn't matter. I was just a target. Once you give bullies that power, they've really got a hold on you."
Still, Susan says she used her musical gifts to try to silence those who picked on her. "I couldn't do the fisticuffs because, to be honest, I was an absolute coward," she says. "What you do is you do well in something and you try and gain their respect in some way, and that's what I was trying to do with my singing."
Today, Susan says she feels stronger than ever. "I feel loved, and that's something I didn't feel when I was younger."
Susan has one important piece of advice for anyone facing a bully. "Get a confidant, someone they can trust," she says. "Because if they can't get a confidant, you feel like you're alone. Like there's nobody around to help you."