When Demi Lovato left the Jonas Brothers tour over the weekend, her representative said that the 18-year-old singer was taking a break "in order to seek medical treatment for emotional and physical issues she has dealt with for some time."
On Tuesday (November 2), People magazine reported that an unnamed source close to Lovato's family revealed that the singer was bullied at school and that the trauma of that bullying has stayed with her. "She fought through eating disorders and has struggled with cutting," said the source. "Demi is taking control by getting help."
Lovato's spokesperson could not be reached at press time to confirm the claims in the People story. The singer also unexpectedly shut down her Twitter page over the weekend.
Lovato was in the midst of the South American swing of the JoBros' "Camp Rock" tour, and TMZ reported that she recently got into a physical altercation with a female on tour with her, an incident her reps did not confirm at press time.
Nearly two years ago, Lovato denied speculation that she was prone to self-mutilation after photos appeared of her with marks on her wrist. Her publicist at the time said that the marks were from gummy bracelets.
Amid heightened attention over bullying in the wake of a string of suicides by teens who were taunted for their sexuality, Lovato teamed with the PACER Center as part of their "Teens Against Bullying" campaign last month to bring some hope to kids who've been harassed by peers.
The "Sonny With a Chance" star wrote an emotional letter to fellow bullying victims, telling them, "I was bullied in middle school. It got so bad I chose to leave and be home schooled. Many people think of bullying as getting beat up in school, but it is so much more than that. For me it was all of the verbal harassment I had to deal with. People say sticks and stones may break your bones but names can never hurt you, but that's not true. Words can hurt. They hurt me. Things were said to me that I still haven't forgotten."
Lovato, who also appeared in a public service announcement about the issue, explained that she was lucky to have very supportive parents and other educational options, as well as outlets like music and acting to help her make it through.
"I actually used all of the bullying as a motivation to succeed," she said. "I think I have actually become a stronger person because of it. But I know that many kids and teens do not have all of the support and outlets I have, and that's why I want to do something about bullying. I want to make it stop. And I've teamed up with PACER and TeensAgainstBullying.org as their spokesperson to create a movement."
Lovato encouraged teens to use the information on the PACER site to help stop bullying and to make sure parents and educators learn how to prevent it as well.