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Last Updated: Monday, 20 February 2006, 13:40 GMT
Bully victim's suffering payout
Sophie Amor
Sophie Amor said she was bullied from age four to 11
A 23-year-old woman has been given a payment of 20,000 after taking legal action over bullying at her south Wales primary school more than 12 years ago.

Sophie Amor was given the out-of-court settlement after suing Torfaen Council for seven years of victimisation which she said destroyed her life.

Ms Amor attended St Peter's Church in Wales School in Blaenavon and said she was bullied from the age of four to 11.

The council agreed a settlement but stressed that it denied liability.

An average day would be suffering panic attacks and palpitations in the neck. I think I just shut off in the end
Sophie Amor

Ms Amor, an art graduate, said she was bullied, taunted about her weight, spat at, and subjected to violence - once requiring stitches around her eye after being pushed to the floor.

"I used to dread going in every day," she said.

"I wanted to fade into the background but it felt as though everyone was staring at me - jeering and laughing, pointing at me.

"I couldn't walk down the school corridor without a snide comment being made, or being given a push to get me out of the way.

Sophie Amor
She said as a child she was taunted and hit by other pupils

"An average day would be suffering panic attacks and palpitations in the neck. I think I just shut off in the end.

"I could seem to switch off and go into my own world - it was the only thing that got me through the day.

"It's not in my nature to stand up to people. I hate confrontation. If I could have made myself invisible I would have."

At the age of nine, she said she attempted suicide by taking an overdose of epilepsy medication and at 14 was diagnosed with depression and taken out of mainstream school.

"I wouldn't call what I have a life - I just exist," she said.

"I don't leave the house in case I see the bullies from school. I hate the way I am but I can't change it."

St Peter's CV Primary School
Torfaen said all its schools have robust anti-bullying policies

Ms Amor's mother Isabel, 55, had regular meetings with the head teacher and school governors about the situation but said she felt intimidated by the situation, preventing her from taking the matter to a higher level.

"Sophie's a bright girl but instead of doing well at school she was frightened to go near it," she said.

"She slowly became more withdrawn, more terrified to speak.

"It's the most frustrating thing in the world - to see your daughter suffering, to see her miss out on her childhood, and not be able to do a single thing about it."

A Torfaen Council spokesman said: "We have not accepted liability.

"The matter was dealt with by the council's insurers who made a settlement of 20,000 to resolve the matter and to minimise costs.

"Torfaen takes all pupil complaints seriously. Every school in Torfaen has robust anti-bullying policies which have clear guidelines to be followed."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See why Sophie Amor was given 20,000 over bullying



SEE ALSO:
Girl's bullying 'as bad as ever'
14 Feb 06 |  Merseyside
'No blame' bully plan rethought
04 Jan 06 |  Bristol/Somerset


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