Monica Lewinsky became internationally famous overnight when it emerged she’d had a sexual relationship with then US President Bill Clinton.
The then office worker was vilified by the public when details of their affair surfaced in 1998, and went on to become the subject of ridicule online in the very early days of the internet.
Lewinsky, now 44, appeared on ITV’s This Morning on Wednesday to share her experience of cyber bullying, and revealed how she felt ‘the whole world was laughing’ at her.
Now campaigning against cyber-bullying by encouraging people to ‘click with compassion’, she shared her tips on how to cope for people being targeted, having lost her own ‘digital reputation’ overnight.
Asked what she would say to her younger self if she could, the activist replied: ‘Hold on to who you are.’
Lewinsky, who became infamous overnight in 1998, regards herself as one of the first victims of cyber-bullying
Monica Lewinsky, 44, appeared on This Morning to talk about being cyber-bullied
The Lewinsky scandal broke in 1998, when a news report emerged saying then-President Bill Clinton had an affair with Lewinsky, who was a White House intern.
She was ruthlessly mocked on early online message boards and comment threads, and considers herself to be one of the very first victims of cyber bullying.
Speaking on the chat show on Wednesday, Monica said: ‘It’s hard for us to imagine in today’s world because of the internet, things break within seconds, but from a personal perspective, to have gone to bed as a private person and to awaken the next morning with the world knowing me was shocking.’
‘There was no one who had gone through an online scandal in the same way losing a digital reputation overnight,’ she added.
Clinton at first denied the affair in an infamous speech saying ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’
Lewisky had confided in a female colleague about the affair who recorded their conversation
Lewinsky, who has worked as a fashion designer and activist since the scandal, gave tips on how to prevent cyber bullying.
She advised thinking before you click, and recommended asking yourself whether you’d say what you’re typing to someone’s face. Lewinsky also urged people not to click on anything that publicly shames another person, and to support people who are suffering by sending messages and even nice emojis so they feel less alone.
Lewinsky was just 24-years-old when news of the Clinton sex scandal broke in 1998, after she confided in a female colleague about the affair.
Clinton first forcefully denied the allegations, saying in January that year in a public statement: ‘I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me … I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.’
Lewinsky encouraged other victims of bullying to ‘hold on to who you are’ on This Morning today
He eventually admitted in August 1998 to having an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky.
Speaking on This Morning, Lewinsky said she would tell her younger self and other victims of bullying to ‘hold on to who you are’.
She said: ‘What’s different about being harassed or shamed online is there’s no border, it’s not at school or if I made a gaffe at a dinner party where it’s a contained audience, when it happened online you feel like the whole world is laughing at you.’
‘I couldn’t count how many horrible things people online had said about me, but I could count when somebody said something face to face on one hand,’ she added.