A young model battling anorexia and suffering from a rare bone disease was told she looked like a skeleton by cruel bullies just days after Dolly Everett committed suicide.
Denika Brand, 20, from Mackay in Queensland, was added to an online message thread between two boys last month and insulted about her weight and appearance.
‘You should go to the food bank,’ wrote one, while the other asked her if she needed baby formula because she looked ‘weak’ and like a ‘lowlife crackhead skank’.
The young woman was told to ‘kys’ (kill yourself) and sent photographs of herself by the men, who remarked on her body shape and asked when the last time she ate was.
On top of her eating disorder, Denika suffers from osteonecrosis – an incurable disease that makes it difficult for her to move around and hollows out her bones.
Denika Brand, 20, was added to a group message between two men, who were trading insults about her weight, appearance and health conditions. She says she has no idea who they are, or where they are
The modelling coach was on a break at work when she saw the messages – and she says she read every single one
One of the men in the group first started sending her abusive messages when she was in Year Eight, and only started again recently.
‘I have no idea why all of a sudden it’s started again,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The messages were a high school thing, and I’ve been out of high school for so long.’
Denika doesn’t know the men who are messaging her. She has no idea if they’re in Mackay, or even in the country.
The woman was told ‘poverty has ravished [sic] you’, ‘you should go to the food bank’, by the pair, who also asked if she needed baby formula because she looked weak.
Denika said until very recently, the bullying she endured was all verbal. She explained strangers would yell at her as she walked down the street.
Denika says her existing battles with anorexia and osteonecrosis – a rare bone disease which makes it difficult for her to move – are made harder by bullies, who have a big impact on her mental health
The two men threatened to physically hurt Denika, and called her a ‘lowlife crackhead skank’
They sent her images of skeletons and made comments about her family members, before playing dumb about how their actions could be perceived as bullying. Denika said messages take a heavier toll than face to face bullying because they don’t disappear
The messages have taken a heavier toll, she says, because they don’t disappear as fast as they come.
‘I think [the bullying] hurts more when it’s through messages, because you can go back through them,’ she said.
At her lowest weight, Denika was only 40 kilograms. She has gained five kilograms since then, but says her progress is pushed back by the bullying.
One abusive message encouraged her to ‘visit a food bank’, and another asked her: ‘Why don’t your parents feed you?’.
‘The messages really mess with the mental side of anorexia – you start to think what they’re saying it true.
‘The more you read it, the more you overthink it.
‘Some days I’ll read it and think what they’re saying is completely true and other days I’ll think they’re complete idiots.’
Denika began receiving abusive messages just one week after 14-year-old Akubra model Dolly Everett committed suicide after being bullied.
The 20-year-old says she will occasionally read over the messages again, and buy into what they say – but some days she finds she is able to rise above it
The anonymous men told the 20-year-old to visit a food bank to get herself a meal in between sending the woman pictures of herself
The 20-year-old said the young girl’s heartbreaking death played a big part in her own decision to speak up about bullying.
‘[Dolly] was such a big icon. She was well known, and it doesn’t look like she ever spoke up,’ she said.
‘I am 20 and the messages I received hurt me – I can’t imagine how it felt for a 14-year-old.’
She now wants to see harsher criminal penalties for bullies, and for more victims to speak up about their problems.
‘If I didn’t have the support I do, from family, friends, doctors and psychologists, I don’t know where I would be today,’ she said.
‘There are so many people out there to support anyone. Hopefully this is the encouragement someone needs to say “I need help”, because it’s a hard thing to say.’
The Mackay woman says she wants her story to help others find the courage to open up about their issues so they don’t have to face the bullies alone