WATCH: Monica Lewinsky Talks About Her Online Shaming, Urges an End to Cyber Abuse

In her first ever public address, Monica Lewinsky advocated for an end to online shaming: 'It honestly feels like the whole world is laughing at you. I know. I lived it.'

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From Monica Lewinsky's speech at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit:

"When I ask myself how best to describe how the last 16 years has felt, I always come back to that word: Shame. My own personal shame, shame that befell my family, and shame that befell my country – our country.

Frankly, I came close to disintegrating. No, it’s not too strong a word. I wish it were, but it isn’t.

That I didn’t (or not completely) when things were at their worst was mainly thanks to the compassion of my friends and my family.

They gave me their love and support; we shared a lot of gallows humor – a lot. And critically – critically — they continued reflecting back to me, the real me.

But these are all just words. What does it actually feel like? What does it really feel like to watch yourself – or your name and likeness—to be ripped apart online?

Some of you may know this yourself. It feels like a punch in the gut. As if a stranger walked up to you on the street and punched you hard and sharp in the gut.

For me, that was every day in 1998. There was a rotation of worsening name calling and descriptions of me. I would go online, read in a paper or see on TV people referring to me as: tramp, slut, whore, tart, bimbo, floozy, even spy.

The New York Post’s Page Six took to calling me, almost daily, the Portly Pepperpot. I was shattered.

Thankfully, people aren’t punched every day on the street. But it happens all the time on the internet. Even as I’m talking to you now, this is happening to someone online. And depending on what you guys are tweeting, this may be happening to me later.

The experience of shame and humiliation online is different than offline. There is no way to wrap your mind around where the humiliation ends — there are no borders.

It honestly feels like the whole world is laughing at you. I know. I lived it."

 

Click here for the full transcript