When the Pain, Torment of Cyberbullying Lingers Years Later

Victims of online harassment share their stories and words of encouragement.

“I was patient zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously,” Lewinsky, 41, said in a TED Talk speech last week.

Ally Del Monte, 16, says she has been a victim of cyberbullying for years, and the ridicule started on the playground when she was 8.

“I was really overweight,” she said. “My friends thought it was funny and would exclude me from the playground. They would make fun of me.”

But as she got older, Ally said, the bullying quickly moved online.

“I would get messages every week that no one cares about me, that I’m not worth anything,” she said. “One night was really bad. I had 172 messages on there telling me to kill myself. … And I said ‘OK.’ I tried to take a bunch of pills that night and I almost died because of it.”

Her mother, Wendy, decided the only solution was to separate Ally physically from her tormentors, so she pulled Ally out of school and now home-schools her.

“Bullying is so bad and the school cannot keep up with it,” Wendy said.

But Ally said the cyberbullying problem still continues, even in the safety of her own home.

“It’s very public, it’s very humiliating and it’s 24/7,” New York-based psychotherapist Robi Ludwig said. “It’s not like you can go home, close the door and pretend it’s not happening because it follows these kids everywhere and that’s what makes it so damaging so for a young kid that can’t really see that difficult times will pass.”

Kelsey Kangos knows this all too well herself. Now 26, she said she was living Ally’s story when she was in the seventh-grade.

Kelsey said it wasn’t just on Instant Messenger. Her tormentors created a website about her.

She said she brought the website to her mom and after her stepfather found out about it, she said, he took action.

“He was like, ‘Who do you think is behind this?’ He made that number of copies and drove to each of the parents’ houses,” Kelsey said.

And even though she says the site was taken down, things became worse.

“It actually didn’t stop until I left that school, until I graduated eighth-grade,” she said. “Once high school started, it was like a totally different scenario. It just like stopped all together.”

Thirty-four states have laws that specifically target cyberbullying.

In the meantime, Kelsey has some advice for Ally:

“There is so much ahead of you that at 15 your social life is everything and I get that,” she said. “So while it feels like this is it, this is my whole life, it’s not. Oh, my gosh, it’s not. You have your whole life ahead of you.”