Britain's Got Talent star Susan Boyle has revealed she was bullied at school and beaten by teachers who were ignorant about children with learning disabilities.
The Scottish singer said she was hit with a belt every day by teachers and taunted by classmates.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror in her first interview since finishing her debut album, I Dreamed A Dream, Susan, 48, said: "You're looking at someone who would get the belt every day... 'Will you shut up, Susan!' - whack!"
She continued: "I was often left behind at school because of one thing or another. I was a slow learner. I'm just a wee bit slower at picking things up than other people. So you get left behind in a system that just wants to rush on, you know? That was what I felt was happening to me."
She added: "There was discipline for the sake of discipline back then. But it's all very different now. I think teachers are taught to understand children with learning disabilities a lot better."
Referring to her experiences of being bullied at school, she said: "There's nothing worse than another person having power over you by bullying you and you not knowing how to get rid of that thing."
Susan also described how she used her faith to cope with the death of her mother Bridget in 2007. She said: "After mum died it didn't fully register until maybe six months after. That's when the loneliness set in and there was nobody around except my cat Pebbles. When you lose someone as powerful as your mum you feel as if a part of you is taken away and that does things to your confidence.
"My confidence was pretty down at that time. A good way of levelling it out, I found, was to tell myself that even though she's not here physically, she is here mentally and spiritually. That's what keeps you going. I have my faith, which is the backbone of who I am, really."
The church worker from Blackburn, West Lothian, became an unlikely international superstar after her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream wowed the audience and judges on Britain's Got Talent earlier this year.
Shortly after being beaten in the final of the show by dance troupe Diversity, Boyle was taken to the Priory Clinic in central London suffering from exhaustion. But the singer, whose fans include actress Demi Moore and her heroine, singer Elaine Page, has bounced back, with her new album, released next week, already expected to be the most pre-ordered of all time - global sales are thought to be in excess of 100,000.
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