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 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.’
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.