Guns N' Roses
added: 7 Jul 2012
interviewed by: Cate Altamura
Bullying causes a multitude of problems for its victims, from anxiety to low self-esteem. Guns N' Roses guitarist DJ Ashba knows this all too well. As a child, Ashba would wake up to his father's fist coming through his bedroom door, similar to that of a scene in “The Shining”. He remembers having convulsions whilst hiding from his father in the back of his bedroom cupboard . “It had left me with a lot of issues, some of which I still deal with today. Experiences like that can stay with you your whole life, but the important thing is to become stronger and use them to help others,” he explains.
Given his background, it’s only fitting that Ashba recently teamed up with BullyVille in an attempt to stamp out bullying. BullyVille.com is a unique anti-bulling website where victims share their stories and attain advice from experts. Bullying has become a growing concern worldwide, particularly with teens, and the presence of social media networking. James McGibney created BullyVille and the site was officially launched on April 11th 2012. So far the site has successfully shut down a revenge porn sight IsAnyoneUp.com and has helped countless victims.
Ashba is passionately embracing his new role as BullyVille's spokesperson. Overcoming bulling can be a difficult process, and for Ashba, understanding that the bully is also experiencing anguish assisted him to understand. He says, “Becoming aware that a bully doesn't lash out unless they are hurting on the inside, too, helped put a lot of things into perspective. Once you see that the bully themselves are being or have been tortured and bullied, it makes it a lot easier to move past the issues.”
There has been a dramatic rise in suicides associated with cyberbullying in recent years. Ashba thus felt compelled to bring awareness to this horrific trend. “That is exactly why I am doing everything that I personally can to bring awareness to it. If everyone does their part we can help alleviate this problem. My advice to kids is ‘Don't feed the bull. You can't cyberbully yourself-it takes two. Don't play into that game.’ Bad stuff is written about me on a daily basis. I choose not to read it, obsess over it, or let it get me down.”
Ashba credits his single mother for aiding him through the turmoil. She put herself in the firing line and risked her own welfare for his wellbeing. “I admired her strength, and seeing that she got through what she did helped me realize that I could, too,” he expresses.
Opening up dialogue with friends, loved ones or a counselor, can help alleviate some of the burden and hopefully lead to recovery. Ashba outlines, “I'm learning to express and communicate my feelings more openly, and realize that when I'm feeling bad it's being triggered by something that is connected to my past. That makes it easier to let it go in the here and now.”
Ashba recently quit smoking, a tough feat for any nicotine addict. He attributes this to finally speaking out. “The day I came out with my bullying story was the day I also quit smoking. Not coincidentally, the two are connected”.
Currently on tour with Guns N' Roses in Europe, Ashba recognizes that music has been an integral part of Ashba's life and aided him through some of his darkest moments. The charismatic Ashba explains, “I was able, as a songwriter, to channel all those pent-up feelings into song. It was my therapy.”. At 19, he packed up his van and made his way to Los Angeles. Now, at 39, Ashba's epic journey has led him to sharing a stage with Axl Rose. “The journey is everything you could imagine and then some. Sometimes it's surreal. Axl is awesome; he is one of the last true Rock stars, and one of the world's greatest Rock and Roll singers. It's a pleasure to share the stage with him.”
Indicative of Ashba’s positive outlook, he has forgiven his father and acknowledges that parents aren’t given a “How To” manual when they have children. That step speaks volumes about his character, as does his capacity to not only overcome adversity, but moreover, muster the courage to speak out and utilize his own personal experiences to bring awareness to the cause.
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