Trolled to death…
My sweet daughter was hounded for years by cruel online trolls
Pop music blared out from my daughter Nicole’s bedroom. Then suddenly... ‘Muuuum!’ she screeched.
‘Lee, stop annoying your sister,’ I said, rolling my eyes as he fled Nicole’s room giggling.
It was September 2015. Nicole had just turned 18 and was getting ready for her first night out.
Lee, then 10, was my youngest, then Dean, 15.
Nicole, who we called Coco, had always been a lovely girl. Sweet, clever, feisty. And although her brothers annoyed her, she adored them. It was a happy, lively home. ‘You look beautiful,’ I beamed when Nicole emerged.
She’d curled her hair, put on a pretty dress.
‘Will you take my picture?’ she grinned. .
My girl, all grown up.
After that, like any 18-year- old, weekend nights out became a regular thing.
I’d pick her up in the early hours, make sure she got home safe.
Only, a few months later, Nicole started coming home covered in bruises. ‘What happened?’ I gasped. At first, she’d brush it off, tell me she’d fallen. ‘It’s nothing,’ she’d mutter. But then she came back with cigarette burns on her arms. ‘What on earth?’ I cried. Nicole broke down. ‘I’m being bullied,’ she sobbed. It turned out some local girls were making her life a misery.
They’d follow her on the dance floor, push her over, throw fag butts at her.
‘They’re just jealous, ignore them,’ I said, holding her as she cried.
Nicole was gorgeous, got lots of attention from boys. I contacted the police. Yet because Nicole was an adult, she’d have to report the girls herself.
‘Then I’d be a grass,’ she said, refusing.
But whenever she went out, bullies would knock her over, elbow her in the face, call her names.
When I’d pick her up, she’d be in tears.
I couldn’t bear to see Nicole’s bubbly personality leaking away.
Then, the cyberbullying started.
All over social media, she was called disgusting names.
Slag, slut – every insult under the sun.
‘It’s not true,’ she sobbed, showing me the messages.
My heart sank as I read the abuse. Online posts told her to kill herself.
You won’t be missed,
‘Please go to the police,’ I begged.
Yet she was too scared the girls would retaliate.
She battled on, resolutely posted smiling selfies from nights out.
But she’d get so anxious, she’d throw up.
‘Just because I’m smiling, doesn’t mean I’m happy,’ she confided one day. My poor girl was miserable Then, in May 2016, the abuse got too much.
Nicole disappeared, took an overdose.
Thankfully, I found her in a field after pleading with her over the phone to tell me where she was. Just in time. ‘I’m sorry, Mum,’ she sobbed as she recovered in hospital.
I just held her, felt so helpless.
It didn’t deter the online bullies.
Instead of feeling guilty, they taunted Nicole.
They said she was so pathetic she couldn’t even take her own life.
Nicole became a shell of her former self.
Doctors said it was a phase, the girls would get bored. But Nicole stopped going out. Over the next two years, she hardly left her room. Yet
All over social media, she was called disgusting names
the bullies still tore her down online.
She cried herself to sleep, cried when she woke up.
‘I can’t do this any more,’ she sobbed.
My heart broke seeing her so beaten.
I tried to take her on walks or out to the shops.
But she refused to leave the house in case she saw her tormentors.
Then, on 18 January this year, I came home from the school run to find Nicole in the hallway. She’d hanged herself. ‘No!’ I screamed. Frantic, I tried to get her down. Poor Lee had to help me. Nicole’s skin was still warm, but she was barely breathing. I still had hope she’d be alive. I called an ambulance, then did CPR until they arrived.
Nicole was rushed to Tallaght Hospital.
For two days, she clung to life in Intensive Care. But it was too late – my poor girl’s brain had been without oxygen for too long.
Family members came to say goodbye.
‘I love you, Nicole, you’re safe now,’ I said, holding her fragile body in the bed.
Then I said goodbye as she passed away after her organs shut down.
Afterwards, my head swam with grief and anger. Those bullies had killed my girl.
Hundreds came to Nicole’s funeral.
If only she’d known she was so loved, I thought.
After, police took Nicole’s phone.
They saw all the nasty messages, concluded Nicole was a victim of cyberbullying.
But she’d never made an official complaint when physically attacked.
Cyberbullying isn’t yet a criminal offence in Ireland. But it is in the Uk...so unfair. It meant, at the time, detectives’ hands were tied.
Those cruel girls, hiding behind their laptops, pushed Nicole over the edge.
Yet they’d never be held accountable.
‘I’m going to change that,’ I told the boys. So I started campaigning for Coco’s Law, to make cyberbullying a crime.
Bring online trolls to justice.
I’ve arranged protests and met with MPS.
I still cry every day. It’s every mother’s worst nightmare, losing a child.
But I’ll fight until my last breath to change the law in my girl’s name.
Otherwise, all I’m left with are memories.
I’ve arranged protests and met with MPS
Happy moments with my girl
My little Nicole
Behind the smile Nicole just four months before she died