Back to The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2018

Our Winner: Phoebe Howells Darcy

Category: Work and education

Phoebe’s breakdown was a result of psychological bullying and gaslighting.

Overcoming psychological bullying

Phoebe is an incredible young woman who has overcome severe bullying to try and make sure no one else goes through what she has had to endure.

Her Campaign For The Awareness Of Covert Bullying is a result of the hardships she’s experienced.

Bullying damaged Phoebe’s education and academic opportunities

Phoebe was diagnosed with Asperger’s when she was seven and found it difficult to fit into a traditional school environment.

Phoebe Work and education LDA Leaders' List 2018

Three years ago, she had a breakdown because of bullying. She had to find the strength to overcome this, while continuing with her academic work.

Phoebe attended more than one school, and she experienced bullying at each one.

She battled anxiety, overcame challenges and all the while, tried to help others.

In an amazing achievement, she got all of her G.C.S.Es and even became the Head Girl at her new school.

But her struggle wasn’t over. The bullying persisted and her mental and physical health deteriorated.

Phoebe lost the opportunity for a scholarship and was forced to complete her A-Levels while dealing with bullying and a school system not equipped to help.

Phoebe Work and education LDA Leaders' List 2018

But Phoebe pushed through. She secured a place at college where she was selected for a Nuffield Research Project at the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute in Cardiff.

Helping other victims of bullying

Phoebe’s breakdown was a result of psychological bullying and gaslighting. The “playground” hair-pulling and fist fights have developed into something that is much more discreet.

Psychological bullying

Psychological bullying is also known as covert bullying or relational aggression.

It is underhand and relies on spreading false rumours, turning people against the target and often happens in school and online.

Gaslighting

Gaslighting creates uncertainty, not only in the victim but also for those in a position to help.

It is where the bully tells the victim they are imagining something…“It’s all in your head!”

Autism can often be used as a tool against the victim….“You don’t understand because you’re autistic.”

Without physical bruises, these forms of bullying can be harder to prove.

Bullying is too often dismissed by those in authority

Phoebe was often told her upset was due to her perception of events and they put more attention on finding inaccuracies in her experiences than solving the problem.

With covert bullying it is harder to prove wrong doing, though the physical and psychological effects on victims can be apparent.

Unfortunately, this means those in power can’t provide the right support and victims are left to tackle it themselves.

Phoebe hopes to change this.

Using her own experiences to help others

Phoebe now advocates for the recognition of bullying, and for others to understand the devastating impact it can have on girls’ self-esteem and wellbeing.

This is why Phoebe has stepped out. By campaigning, speaking at events and sharing her story she hopes to give more people the insight they need to prevent this from happening.

Phoebe Work and education LDA Leaders' List 2018
Phoebe speaking at the Welsh Assembly about mental health and bullying.

Phoebe is a youth Ambassador at The Autistic Women’s Empowerment Project (AWE). The organisation was founded by Willow Holloway, fellow winner of the Leaders’ List 2018 in the Advocacy category.

Here, Phoebe helps campaign for the recognition, acceptance and equality for autistic women and girls across Wales.

A powerful message through photography

Phoebe also plans to create a voice for children who have died as a result of bullying.

Their voices will be portrayed through a display of the “fallen” and their loved ones who will help tell their story.

Phoebe’s talented photography will support this project, which she hopes will be on display at the Welsh Government building in Cardiff in 2019.

Phoebe continues to advocate and speak up on behalf of other victims. She’s a deserved winner of the Leaders’ List and we’re looking forward to hearing what else she achieves.

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