Derek Hough recently opened up about his past experience with bullying, and what he had to say was shocking and disturbing.
The Dancing with the Stars pro spoke about bullying after he received an award at the GLSEN Gala on October 17. According to Variety, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network honored Derek Hough with the Inspiration Award for his efforts to prevent bullying and raise awareness of what can be a deadly issue.
Us Weekly reports that Derek used his acceptance speech to open up about the time he was bullied.
“I was actually bullied as a young boy on one occasion. They would tie my ankles up with a very rough rope and hang me in a tree upside down, spit on me and call me names, even hold a gun to my head. Coming from a family of hunters, I assumed the gun was real. I didn’t tell anybody — my parents or teachers or friends or sisters.”
Hough said that he used dancing as a way to escape his tormentors, calling dance his “safe place.” However, he didn’t just encourage victims of bullying to find something they love to help them cope with their situation — he also stressed the importance of speaking out.
“I know now that the worst thing you can do is suffer in silence… Let me tell you right now, you are not alone. Seeking help requires incredible strength and courage. The most powerful weapon you have against bullying is your voice.”
Derek Hough wasn’t the only big star at the GLSEN Gala. Julia Roberts and husband Danny Moder were both honored with the Humanitarian Award. Hough posed for a photo with Roberts, and he shared it on Instagram along with his thoughts about being honored by GLSEN.
“I am humbled and honored to have been among such incredible and inspiring people last night at the GLSEN event. A huge privilege to have been honored for such a special cause.”
Derek Hough’s Dancing with the Stars partner, Bethany Mota, also knows what it feels like to be bullied. In fact, Mota’s experience with bullying was the inspiration behind the dance she did with Hough during the show’s “My Most Memorable Year” episode. While Derek found solace in dancing, Bethany used creating YouTube videos as a way to cope with the negativity in her life. She said the videos gave her the voice that she thought she had lost.
There have been rumors that Derek Hough is dating Bethany Mota, but the Dancing with the Stars pro told People magazine that he’s actually “pretty eligible” right now. However, he’s not a fan of the bachelor lifestyle — he wants a wife ASAP!
“We’ll start with a woman first — a wife!” Hough said of his family plans. “I want kids. I’m turning 30 next year, I got to get on this! I want babies.”
Bethany Mota is just 18, so it’s unlikely that she’s ready for such a serious relationship.
Derek also talked to People about how he’s come to view bullies as he’s gotten older.
“They don’t love who they are. They don’t know who they are.”
Hough went on to reveal that he’s forgiven his tormentors.
“When I was bullied, it was very physical, it was very aggressive, and it was something that, as I got older, I definitely forgave. I think that when you’re forgiving, you’re for giving.”
According to ABC, Derek Hough, Bethany Mota, and the other Dancing with the Stars competitors will be moving and grooving to Pitbull’s “biggest hits and favorite songs” when the “Timber” singer appears on the show as a guest judge and performer this week. You can check out the remaining nine dancers’ performances Monday, October 18 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.