ECPMF: Please describe the gender-based violence and abuse that you have experienced as a result of your journalistic work, and cite examples.
Since I started my public career in TV, radio, press back in 1995, I’ve been receiving threats, hatred, racist and sexist attacks. It has been everything from handwritten anonymous letters that I collected for a while until they made me sick to terrible lies on racist websites, e-mails and messages on social media. I also had masked Nazis outside my home, I had racists showing up during my lectures etc.
In the beginning I kept silent about this, hoping they would stop. My method was to ignore them and that was also the advice I got from the police and my bosses. After a while I gave up and shared some stories to show what it means to be their target. I wrote about it in my books and articles, I mentioned it in interviews and I also did a series of documentaries on hate crime against LGTBQ and migrants.
My goal was to show it was not a personal problem and an individual threat but a threat to free speech and democracy. That changed a lot. Suddenly people engaged and supported me but unfortunately, the harassment didn’t stop.
What effect did the abuse have on you in terms of your physical and psychological wellbeing?
I have been heartbroken, stressed and scared almost every day of my life since I first received death threats. I didn’t know how to handle the amount of lies and rumours about me. I went to bed with wounding words echoing in my ears. Words that stick to you. The hatred, the racism and sexism, is poisoning your mind.
There are periods I really struggle to forget the fact that there are people that want to hurt and silence me.