Beth Tweddle has opened up about her personal battle with cyber bullies in this week's issue of HELLO! magazine, out now. The retired Olympic gymnast has written a special column for Safer Internet Day, revealing that she's experienced some "really horrid abuse" from Twitter trolls in the past. Beth, a former contestant on The Jump, explained that the trolls "always went for my looks".
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She wrote: "It was in 2014 when I experienced some really horrid abuse on social media after taking part in a Twitter Q&A about women in sport. It was not the first time it had happened to me and the trolls always went for my looks. It was horrible – nobody likes to hear nasty things about themselves – but I was determined not to be a victim, so I turned to the UK Safer Internet Centre."
Beth Tweddle explained that trolls "always went for my looks"
Beth, who became the first female gymnast from Great Britain to win a medal at the European Championships, World Championships, and Olympic Games, added: "Luckily for me, for every negative comment I get online, there are ten or 20 positive ones, so I try not to dwell on the bad ones."
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The 31-year-old athlete also admitted that online abuse was "hard to take" when she was younger, but she has learnt to ignore the hurtful comments. Her advice for young people is to never reply to the comments, and to turn to a friend, parent or teacher for help. "Don't try to face it alone," she wrote. "It's okay to speak about it, although that is not always easy. People often don't want to say something in case the backlash is even worse. But no one should suffer in silence. Don't retaliate straightaway on Twitter or Facebook, though. Make sure you know what safety tools are available online, such as how to report abuse, blocking users and controlling privacy settings."
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She also warned children and young people to think before they post on social media. Beth concluded: "Think, 'Would I like my Nan to read it?' That is the one thing I always stick to. You wouldn't say a hurtful comment to a person's face, so why would you think it's any different online?"
Beth is an ambassador for the UK Safer Internet Centre, which advises on online safety and is supporting its Safer Internet Day.