All of the survivors told their stories on national TV. One of them got crucified for it.
The public reaction to Sydney siege survivor Marcia Mikhael has been nothing short of brutal.
Most of us can’t even begin to imagine the horror that this siege victim experienced – but that hasn’t stopped the public and the media from viciously turning on her.
Like everyone else there that day, Ms Mikhael truly believed gunman Man Haron Monis was going to kill her.
She struggled to come to peace with the fact that her life could soon be over.
She called her family to say her goodbyes.
And she has had to live with the knowledge that two of her fellow hostages didn’t make it.
But instead of the public rallying around her, she became the subject of an online hate campaign within hours of her story being aired on Channel Seven in January.
The abuse was so bad that an already-traumatised Ms Mikhael said she has even considered suicide.
The Westpac project manager told the Blacktown Sun that the abuse started after her lawyer told the media that she was demanding a six-figure sum in exchange for her story:
I went from being a victim and a hero to a villain, a police basher. When all the bullying started I actually thought about killing myself. Every single one of the hostages received a payout from either Channel Seven or Nine. So why am I the only greedy monster?
Ms Mikhael also attracted criticism from comments she made during the interview when she claimed the police could have been more proactive during the siege, and that the army would have handled it better.
However, she claims the quotes were taken out of context and that she had previously thanked the police for saving her life.
She has also donated a portion of the money she earned for her interview to Lifeline.
Since the siege, the former bodybuilder has been haunted by nightmares and flashbacks and she is often too frightened to leave the house.
She has also endured two surgeries to remove hundreds of pieces of shrapnel from both legs.
In short, it’s been a horrendous, life-changing experience – and the online bullying has added a whole new and unecessary layer of trauma.
Here’s the thing: We might not agree with the ethics of paying victims for their stories. And we may not even agree with the victim’s opinions, or the timing of those opinions.
But bullying and harassing an innocent victim – one who is already clearly fragile – is unacceptable, no matter what the circumstances are.
Let’s save the vitriol for the one person who actually deserves it – the gunman who ruined countless lives that day.