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In 2016, Alex Nation won The Bachelor. But when she checked her messages, they were hateful.

Warning: This post contains mentions of self-harm and suicide, and may be triggering for some readers.

Since winning The Bachelor in 2016, Alex Nation has found herself on the receiving end of frequent and severe online bullying.

That’s three years of comments criticising her appearance, her dating and career choices, her sexuality and anything else the 27-year-old has chosen to share on social media.

Speaking to comedian and LGBTQI+ advocate Magda Szubanski on Friday’s episode of The Project, the mum-of-one said the barrage of abuse is “exhausting”.

“It doesn’t go away and it’s there all the time and it’s exhausting,” she said.

“You wake up for a new day and it’s there again, and you just can’t escape it.”

Alex Nation shares how The Bachelor affected her life. Post continues after video.

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According to Nation, the abuse started the moment Richie Strahan chose her as the winner of his season of The Bachelor. Audiences were angry he had chosen her over runner-up, Nikki Gogan.

Years later trolls would then send her hate directed at her subsequent relationship with Maegan Luxa, and her brief fling with Bill Goldsmith on this year’s Bachelor in Paradise.

“I woke up the next morning after the finale, getting ready to do all of my fun radio rounds with Richie and then it was just a barrage of hate and trolling and private messages,” she told Szubanski.

While most of it “is silly,” she’s also received messages telling her to take her own life, with others questioning her ability to parent her seven-year-old son, Elijah.

“I’d get messages from people saying your son should be in foster care, he’s better off without you, he should be with his dad full time,” she said.

“I have been sent a step-by-step of how to kill myself, [with] pictures of how to do it. I’ve been told that I’m better off dead and my son’s better off without me.

“Yeah, really awful stuff.”

 

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Empowered women, empower women. @magda_szubanski you are so incredibly brilliant and today was an absolute pleasure ✨

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As a female public figure, Nation isn’t alone in her fight against cyber-bullying. Far from it.

Szubanski herself has been very open about the hate she received in 2017, due to her public support for the same-sex marriage plebiscite.

This year, she was once again targeted by trolls, in light of her ‘For Love’ campaign which she started as a response to Israel Folau’s controversial, anti-gay Go Fund Me profile. Szubanski wanted to bring together a number of faiths and the LGBTQI community to raise $500,000 for the Children’s Council Foundation and Twenty10, an organisation which provides health, legal, and housing services to people of diverse sexualities and gender identities.

Instead, she was hit with social media abuse, with journalist Julia Baird, and even Folau himself, defending her.

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Similarly, in her latest Vogue interview, Taylor Swift has spoken about the effect ‘cancel culture’ has had on her mental health. She likens the process to a “mass public shaming” in which millions of people hurled words of abuse and hate through social media.

“[It’s] a very isolating experience,” she said.

“I don’t think there are that many people who can actually understand what it’s like to have millions of people hate you very loudly.

“When you say someone is canceled, it’s not a TV show. It’s a human being. You’re sending mass amounts of messaging to this person to either shut up, disappear, or it could also be perceived as, kill yourself.”

 

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???? au revoir ????

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Closer to home, former model and journalist Charlotte Dawson was also the victim of extensive trolling and cyber bullying. Like those received by Nation, this also included messages prompting her to take her own life.

In February, 2014, she did.

Charlotte Dawson
Charlotte Dawson photographed with her fellow Australia's Next Top Model's judges, Alex Perry and Sarah Murdoch in 2008. Image: Getty.

From the insidious nature of cancel culture, and the anonymity afforded to people who post hate-filled online messages, Nation concluded her interview with Szubanski on a sombre note.

"People need to think before they post, too. You don't know what the person's head space is," she said.

"The reality of it is, your words can be final and that’s it.”

If you, or a young person you know, is struggling with symptoms of mental illness please contact your local headspace centre here or chat to them online, here. If you are over the age of 25 and suffering from symptoms of mental illness please contact your local GP for a Mental Health Assessment Plan or call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

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