‘I’m Not Ashamed Of Who I Am’: Monica Lewinsky Discusses Suicidal Thoughts, Overcoming Shame, And Cyberbullying Advocacy

Monica Lewinsky became a household name after she had an affair with President Bill Clinton. At just 22-years-old, Lewinsky was publicly shamed for her sexual indiscretions with some of the most private details of her life being aired in the mainstream media. Lewinsky says it was like “a skinning of sorts” with the shame sticking on her like tar. She says that the shame caused her to go into a downward spiral with suicidal thoughts entering her mind. Though Lewinsky says she never attempted suicide, she says she “came very close” and that she had it all planned out in her head exactly how she would do it. Meanwhile, her worried mother remained by her bedside each night to ensure she didn’t have a chance to follow through with her plans. After years of anguish and hiding, Lewinsky says she could no longer remain silent about public shaming and cyberbullying. One particular case tipped her over the edge and she knew she had to speak out.

The Daily Mail reports that former presidential intern Monica Lewinsky is speaking out about the turning point in her life where she went from hiding from the public eye to embracing her calling to make a change in society. Lewinsky says that her initial response to the shame she felt was to hide and steer clear of media attention. However, after Monica heard about the 2014 suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, she knew that she must speak out about cyberbullying and help victims of the same shame she once struggled to overcome.

“Having survived myself, what I want to do now is help other victims of the shame game survive, too.”

Clementi was secretly filmed by another student kissing another man and the video was uploaded online. The student was then shamed and the cyberbullying began. Following the incident, the shame was too much for Clementi and he committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge.

Lewinsky is now a vocal advocate against cyberbullying. In fact, Lewinsky gave a TED Talk on shame and discussed in detail how a bad decision at the age of 22 changed her life forever. She claims that she was “patient zero” for cyberbullying and that her reputation was destroyed on a global scale almost immediately.

“Public shaming as a blood sport has to stop. I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.”

Now Lewinsky is advocating for a “safer and more friendly” social media environment and hopes her past experiences with shame will help her help others overcome their own shame. As part of her desire to bring positivism to social media, Lewinsky revealed a series of new emojis to help combat cyberbullying. Lewinsky says the emojis were designed to be used as a way to communicate support to a bullying victim when you simply don’t know what to say.

“A while ago, I had the opportunity to pitch this idea for the anti-bullying support emojis (which a friend and I cooked up over dinner one night), to Vodafone, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies. Together, we conceived an emoji as a way to communicate support in a bullying situation.”

The emojis were the answer to a problem that Lewinsky knows all too well. When struggling with shame and the emotions resulting from public humiliation, many times people close to you simply don’t know what to say. Therefore, instead of speaking up, many times people will simply remain silent. The emojis give those without words the ability to show support with a simple symbol that shows they are there for the cyberbulling victim.

“Last year a survey of 5,000 teens from around the world revealed that young people often struggle to find the right words to use when a friend has been cyberbullied. Of those surveyed, 20 percent admitted to having been bullied online themselves, and twice that number said they had friends who had been harassed.”

What do you think about Monica Lewinsky using her past public humiliation to take a stand against cyberbullying? Do you think the #BeStrong emojis will help those struggling with cyberbullying as friends begin using the emojis as a symbol of support?

[Image via AP Photo/ File/ APTV]