Actress Katie Leclerc of ABC Family's "Switched At Birth"… (Valerie Macon / Getty Images )
When you think of "bullying victim," the picture that comes to mind may not be of a lovely young California girl. But bullied kids come in all stripes.
Katie Leclerc, who plays a deaf teenager on the ABC Family show "Switched at Birth," says she knows about being bullied.
"I was bullied through middle school by three girls," the actress told the Los Angeles Times.
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Leclerc, born in Texas, later moved to San Diego with her family.
"The move meant I could pursue my dream of acting," Leclerc wrote by email. But Leclerc would often come home in tears. "The strain it put on me as well as my family was tough."
Leclerc and her family went to the school with the problem but didn't feel like it was handled "with the severity it deserved," she said. "Now, bullying in schools has only gotten worse."
Leclerc got her acting break with an appearance on "Veronica Mars" at age 19. At age 20, she was diagnosed with Ménière's disease. She told Ability Magazine that her symptoms include intermittent hearing loss, ringing and pressure in the ears, and attacks of dizziness.
Other family members, including her older sister, also have the disease. The fresh-faced 25-year-old plays deaf teenager Daphne Vasquez, using what she describes as a "deaf accent," on "Switched at Birth."
Now, Leclerc is not only an advocate for the disabled but also has spoken out against bullying. This is National Bullying Prevention Month, and Leclerc is among young celebrities who have contributed designs for anti-bullying T-shirts to CustomInk. Profits from the shirts go to Minnesota-based Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center.
Rebecca Black -- who became an online sensation with her pop song "Friday" -- is another anti-bullying advocate. Black said she became spokeswoman for National Bullying Prevention Month "in the hope of educating a new generation."
Said Leclerc: "As a victim of bullying, I know how isolating it can feel, and the pressure to seem normal is very strong, but it is important to reach out to an adult and let them know what is going on. Every victim needs an ally."