Beauty expert Sali Hughes, who posted an emotional video on Instagram last year discussing the trauma of being trolled, has revealed that she’s met one of the women who bullied her online in person.
In September 2019, author and broadcaster Hughes, said she’d decided to stop ‘ignoring’ trolls who ‘run roughshod over my entire life’ on ‘trashing’ or ‘dragging’ sites and acknowledge how much pain they’d caused her.
This week, in a new broadcast for Radio 4, Hughes revealed that she’d come face-to-face with one of the women who’d been in that group, known as Becky, and got the chance to ask ‘why a minority of people dedicate so much time to gleefully slating, defaming and dragging someone they follow obsessively online.’
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In September 2019, beauty expert Sali Hughes decided to acknowledge a group of women who’d been attacking her online on ‘trashing sites’. In a new BBC Radio 4 documentary this week, Hughes, 45, met with Becky, one of the women who’d taunted her
The troll she met, says Hughes (pictured), for the BBC Radio 4 programme was a ‘smart, affluent-looking, 30-something mum’ who ‘smiled warmly as she approached me’
‘Dragging’ or ‘trashing’ sites are generally forums when members of the general public, often using a pseudonym, attack a person in the public eye.
In an accompanying article for BBC News, Hughes said she’d met Becky in a coffee shop and described her as a ‘smart, affluent-looking, 30-something mum’ who ‘smiled warmly as she approached me’.
The pair discussed why Becky had made the comments, Hughes said, with her online aggressor maintaining that she was a ‘nice person’ and that she was ‘blind to how thoroughly unpleasant I was being’, telling her victim: ‘Just knowing that I was any way involved makes me feel really upset at the thought of that.’
Becky added that the comments she’d made ‘100% reflected’ her own troubled personal life.
The original post by Hughes, who has 170,000 followers on Instagram, which sparked the documentary saw her reveal how the group of women had ‘discussed my children, criticised my parenting, mocked my marriage and made personal insults about my husband (who is the kindest and most decent person I know).’
Following the programme, Hughes took to Instagram to ask active members of trashing or dragging sites to ‘stop kidding’ themselves about the damage they can cause, saying: ‘You are destroying human beings and traumatising their families’
The emotionally-charged recording continued: ‘They set about assassinating the character of a beloved colleague and friend of mine, calling her fat, ugly, boring, unqualified and unskilled – all while claiming it was me who treated her badly, when I did nothing of the sort. It has made her ill.
‘They dove deep into my family life, researching details about my mother – someone who has recently died horrifically of cancer and with whom I had a painful and extremely difficult relationship with since she left when I was a toddler.’
The author and broadcaster also interviewed Labour MP Jess Phillips about trolls she’d endured, discussing how in 2018, she was once bombarded with 600 rape threats
On Instagram, Hughes thanked Labour MP Jess Phillips who appeared in the radio documentary and had discussed her own abuse at the hands of online critics.
In 2018, Phillips revealed that she’d been bombarded by 600 online rape threats in a single night. The MP for Birmingham Yardley, has frequently spoken out about abuse directed at women in Parliament.
After Hughes’ radio programme had aired she took to Instagram to say the experience of meeting her troll was ‘validating’.
She wrote: ‘Validating because experts in online behaviours went on a dragging site and expressed absolute horror at what goes on, and explained what it meant about the people posting, not their victims.’
She also asked active members of dragging sites to stop kidding themselves about the damage they can cause, saying: ‘You are destroying human beings and traumatising their families.
‘Whatever you want to tell yourselves to make it okay – you are simply lying to yourself. I will immediately block any rude comments. I am done engaging with you.’
Listen to Sali Hughes’ story on BBC Sounds