Paul Calafiore is getting candid.
Appearing on the Challenge Mania podcast this week, the Big Brother alum — who will appear on the upcoming season of MTV’s The Challenge: Final Reckoning — opened up about his experience getting bullied in high school.
“People didn’t really know who I was — they didn’t understand me,” he said. “I had really, really long blond hair like Sunshine from Remember the Titans, so they would call me Sunshine, they would call me a fa—ot, they would try to corner me in school because they knew I was afraid to fight in school because my dad would beat my a— if I got suspended. So they would punk me out in school and I’d have to bite my tongue. … Whenever I was getting ganged up on, my defence mechanism was to put on my protective shield.”
“I kind of developed this whole passion towards kids who go through s—,” he continued. “I always stood up for kids in high school who went through that, whether it made me unpopular or not, because I didn’t care about being part of the cool kids crew. I didn’t care about being part of the popular clique. I cared about doing what was right because I knew that would make my mother and father proud.”
Calafiore, 29, said he understands the “darkness” that lingers from “bad situations” some kids face growing up.
“I’ve been there. I’ve been at low points of my life where I’ve contemplated suicide, and it takes a really strong person to be able to come out and admit that,” he said. “I’ve had my own s— happen to me in my past, things that I haven’t even told my family about, things that I haven’t even come out publicly about, as to why I support certain things about sexual assault and bullying.”
“I feel as though social media nowadays, everything that happens on Twitter is like what happened to me back in the day, physically, where there’s tons of people ganging up [on you],” he added. “The only difference is those people had faces. I knew where they lived, I knew how to find them. All these people on social media are faceless.”
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This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.