Gabby Douglas Joins Anti-Cyberbullying Campaign After Facing Online Harassment

Gabby Douglas encourages those who, like her, are being cyberbullied to “stay strong.”

The Olympic gold medalist, who received a lot of flack this summer for everything from her appearance to forgetting to put her hand over her heart during the pledge of allegiance, recently joined an anti-cyberbullying campaign to stop spreading hate online.

“I just want to say that you are not alone,” the 20-year-old said in an interview that aired Friday (Dec. 16, 2016) on Good Morning America. “And even though it may seem the world’s against you — and I definitely felt like the world was definitely against me in Rio — I’m here today to tell you that’s not the case.”

She continued, “There are people out there who love you and your life is very valuable and it’s very important, so just stay strong.”

According to Douglas, the backlash she received during the Rio Olympics was her first experience with online bullying. At the time, internet trolls mocked her hair and accused her of not supporting her teammate, Simone Biles.

“I was caught off guard,” the gymnast, who has three Olympic gold medals under her belt, recalled. “I was like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’

“I started Googling myself, which I probably shouldn’t have done,” she said.

Douglas is now working with Hack Harassment, an initiative among tech and media companies and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, as an ambassador to stop online bullying. For the Olympian, she believes we can break the cycle by first having parents set good examples for their children.

“It starts at home,” she said. “If you’re a good example to your kid, your kid’s going to follow that example. If the kid sees you nasty, he/she’s going to take over that role.”