It’s difficult to fathom that paramedic and dedicated father-of-two James Fry spent most of his youth intoxicated on a concoction of drugs and alcohol.
The 32-year-old battled this savage addiction for nearly 10 years, starting from the tender age of 13.
The route cause was his first day at a new Catholic school in Sydney, where he suffered the wrath of a school bully.
For the next three years, he lived in a constant state of fear in which he tried to seek help from his superiors but was repeatedly ignored.
Mr Fry told Daily Mail Australia ‘things started to spiral downhill from then on’ as he recalls how the trauma of being bullied haunted him for years to come.
Fry shares his story as Friday, March 20, marks the fifth annual National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.
When asked about his lowest point, Fry struggles to pinpoint just one particular moment.
‘I was at rock bottom for a long time so I have many low points, but I guess one of them was constantly stealing from my parents which probably adds up to about tens and thousands of dollars,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘My parents were my biggest advocates so what I did to them still makes my cringe to this day.’
This is how he funded most of his drug and alcohol addiction in his early teens.
‘Alcohol abuse remained consistent but I heavily used marijuana from about 13 to 16-years-old – where I would smoke about five to six times a day – and then later on there was ecstasy and amphetamines.’
Fry is adamant that he had a stable upbringing. He was never neglected by his parents but instead received constant love and support from them – even through his darkest days.
Yet he says it was one particular day during his schooling years that later resulted in the destruction of his youth.
‘I was just eight years old and starting my first day at a new Catholic school my parents had enrolled me into,’ Fry said.
It was this very day that Fry became a victim of bullying from another eight year old, who he’s given the pseudonym Tyler.
‘From the next three years I lived in a constant state of fear and it began to take a traumatic toll on me,’ Fry said.
In his recently released memoir, That Fry Boy, the former alcoholic penned the physical and psychological abuse he endured until he reached the age of 11.
Fry recalls being told: ‘I don’t like you. I am going to kill you. Have a nice night’.
‘I was met with one of his fists to my nose,’ Fry further wrote in his book.
‘The force was such that I was knocked against a nearby brick wall and blood immediately started to pour from my nose. Having never been hit in anger before, the shock also caused me to wet my pants, adding to my humiliation.
‘With me now a wet shaking mess of tears, Tyler surveyed the damage he had just inflicted and seemingly impressed with his efforts, let out a laugh before turning and walking calmly away.’
Such incidents were common for the next three years as teachers failed to resolve the issue which concerned Fry and his parents.
‘I’ve racked my brain trying to understand why I was targeted but I just can’t put my finger on it,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I guess I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. But I blame Tyler as much as I can blame an eight-year-old.
‘I’m more angry at the teachers at the school because at the end of the day, I was in their duty of care and I had asked a number of times for help but didn’t get it.
‘Bullying is different from school yard teasing. Bullying is pervasive targeting and it is very traumatic.
‘Schools should understand that this is a very serious issue and it’s not just kids being kids.’
By the time Fry moved to a different school, the damage had already been done.
‘Things started to spiral downhill from then on,’ he said.
‘As a way of dealing with the it, my developing brain had changed the way I thought and reacted to certain situations.’
The attacks Fry had previously experience led him to adopt a ‘bad boy’ image at his new school, in order to prevent further bullying attempts from occurring.
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