Sweat began to emerge on the back of my neck. Why was I so nervous?  Perhaps this girl felt similar enclosing insecurity. When she was alive. 

“Her name was Amanda Todd,” I said as I mindlessly picked up ornaments with my hands, now damp, and handed them to my mother. I just hoped that they weren’t too sticky from my clammy grasp.

My mom steadied herself, high up on the ladder, as she carefully adorned the Christmas tree. I lowered my head in self-reproach, quickly realizing–too late–that she may not understand. Might even judge.

“Have you heard about her?” I asked again, unaware that I would be asking this question to almost every person I met for the rest of my lifetime.

“No, who is that?”

Online journalists in the media would simply say she was a victim of cyberbullying.

YouTube users like GoingLongo, Victoria Lopez, and Catneki would pride themselves in labeling her—as they have detailed in the comments posted on her video—an ignorant teenager who didn’t think about the consequences of her actions.

A Wikipedia page designated to those eager to learn more about her describes her as “….a 15 year old Canadian student and victim of cyberbullying who hanged herself at her home in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia.”

But Carol Todd—her beloved mother who is currently leading the Amanda Todd Legacy Society—recounts her as someone different entirely: “She had all the spirit in the world…She was caring, she was empathetic, [and] she always wanted to help others.”

I swayed nervously side to side. I was unaware of all of this information at the time; I only found out as a result of all the reporters swarming the news of her death like blow flies eager to nest their own greedy eggs in the scraps of her digital body. I simply answered the details that were recently released from the articles hatched out of production, such as how Amanda was pressured into flashing at eleven years old; the same age where I was sharing her story with my mom.

How she and her family were outcasts as a result of the leak of these images she succumbed to without consent; how she was physically beaten by other students at her school, manipulated, and used sexually for her body as a little girl who just wanted a friend to understand all the pain she had that led her to something that never should have happened. An incomprehensive inevitable.

That led her to take her own life.

I expected my mom to express some form of sympathy that the YouTube users lacked as they spewed hateful messages from the safety and comfort of not having survived what Amanda had. To hug me, perhaps cry, hold me tight and reiterate how she could not imagine as a mother that her own daughter could go through a similar affliction from the world. Instead, she concluded the conversation in seven short apathetic words:

“She shouldn’t have done things like that.” 

I’m supposed to include a paragraph about what happened and what led her to take her own life. But I’ve been staring at my computer screen for ten minutes and the blaring light of it all is so unbelievably piercing; how can I? I would just be subjecting her life to the same simplicity that so many other journalists had before. But it’s not that simple.

Amanda Todd was only fifteen years old when she uploaded her video to YouTube on September 7th, 2012; Jimmy Eat World’s guitar begins strumming the prelude of “Hear You Me” as the young teenager grips her collection of cards in nervous anticipation of sharing her story. She smiles shyly as she reveals the first card, inked in neat, round handwriting: “Hello!” A heart is noticeably replaced with the period mark of the exclamation: a small, but powerful expression of love she had to offer for those who happened to come across her personal anecdote.

While there were many users who commended her for the bravery and courage expressed in presenting seemingly unconventional struggles, there were also those who were unaware and cast judgment as a result of it. Even articles from large news outlets such as BBC News and British Columbia continue to label the incident that happened as “cyberbullying.”

She was eleven. She was sexually exploited by a pedophile. A grown man manipulated her into believing he genuinely cared. So she gave him what he demanded of her for so long. And now she’s gone, damn it. She’s gone. What more can I say?

This October will mark twelve years since her passing. Many articles, including “Amanda Todd, Cyberbullying, and Suicide,” and “Amanda Todd Cyberbully Jailed For Almost Eleven Years,” still refer to the man responsible as an online bully in spite of the sexual extortion charges against him if the media covered what happened to me, would they label him as simply that? A bully? While it is true Amanda faced countless moments of harsh detonations from strangers all around the world, it was more so a byproduct resulting from the consistent blackmail from her perpetuator who coerced her into sendingpornographic images of her as a child

I have to go to bed every night wondering if he ever took screenshots during our calls together like this man had done to you, Amanda. Did he tell you how much he cared for you too? That he loved you and thought you were oh, so beautiful? Filled you with hopes and dreams that perhaps you were a little more exceptional in spite of what those kids at school think or say?

I couldn’t help but be curious if the reason for such coverage was because the family had also perceived this man—similarly to the way many YouTube comments, videos, and articles had—as an online bully.  I was nervous to ask such a question because I could not imagine how to direct the potential intensity that could arise, especially for an interview that was just as—if not more—emotionally taxing. But I was surprised at Carol’s swift dismissal: “I don’t believe that the word ‘cyberbully’ should be used.”

What was even more shocking to me was how Carol even stated that “…[she] always had a problem” with the depiction because of how “It’s not a word that has serious, consequent effects” that “…matched as a descriptor” to the “…intimidation and harassment, exploitation, [and] extortion” crimes committed by an adult male. Carol has “…talked to multiple media people and said: ‘So you’re not just saying that Amanda died because of her cyberbullying, because he was a sexual offender,’” mom, she was coerced by a grown man and for some reason that remains to be unknown, the word continues to be thrown around like some trendy buzzword. Both Carol and I had the same exact concerns and aspirations of getting our stories out there and yet the world continues to silence our truths can’t you see? I try so hard, mom. I opened up to you and everything. I just don’t understand why you still can’t see it; why you continuously place so much responsibility on me instead of the people who did that to me.

I often wonder why I’ve spent so much time investing as much emotional labor as I currently have into the story of a girl I had never even met. I was an avid Speech and Debate competitor in high school and during my senior year, I used her as one of my main argumentative points in favor of advocating for a more stable legal system for online sexual abuse. I tried making it as engaging as I could This is a man who spent all day in his house blackmailing underaged girls and continuously practiced hand gestures to further enunciate the severity of the situation A man who’d partake in activities where he’d post these girls’ videos and photos to a predator version of Facebook. 

But no matter how hard I tried to make the urgency resonate with the judges–who were parents themselves–What makes it even more stomach-turning is the fact that Amanda Todd’s family had tried contacting the police, but were given a curt “sorry” and instruction to block the user I still would receive the same reaction: 

She shouldn’t have done things like that. 

In those moments, I would try reflecting back to the presentation of information,  statistics like the 18.4 million legal reports between 1998 and 2019. But these statistics weren’t enough for them These predators purposely go after children with low self-esteem it was then where I couldn’t help but question their integrity They’ll groom them with compliments and shower unconditional “love” that they use to manipulate their victims especially when reports seem exponentially overwhelming every year They stoop as low as making pornographic images that followed loved ones, or even threaten suicide I had to hold myself back from bawling when I saw that the reports that The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children received have increased by over ten million years in the last two years alone, and that’s not including the amount of cases that go unreported After all, I would know better than anyone or ones that don’t even make it to court.

Cases like mine.

I’m standing in front of the mirror.

Clothes are hurled to the floor as I prepare myself to turn on the shower faucet. I try to avoid glancing at the daunting glares of the reflected surface—I was never able to recover in that way. But somehow I find myself always glancing and that’s when I see her.

Her eyes are bloodshot and her hair is cascading over her shoulders like in her video, although now completely frazzled. The world around me fades away as she offers a shy smile accompanied by gnashing tears that made her cheeks rough and coarse.

I try to offer some silent augmentation to make these moments less painful, like writing a piece or communicating my struggles to loved ones.

But they don’t get it, Amanda. For some reason, people unconsciously put so much more value in me because I survived my own experiences of sexual violence. 

Yet the truth is I am no better than you. You have every right to be here as much as I. I just can’t bring myself to understand. I see you there, still fifteen, when you should now be twenty-six, and everytime I do I can’t help but question:

Why am I still here at all?

And every time I ask myself that, the colors of reality begin shifting back into place, and I realize that I had been staring at my own bloodshot eyes and cascading hair now frazzled from the salty lick of tears. She was fifteen when the world punished her for sharing her story; I was fifteen when her story happened to me.

My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm



Sep 7, 2012

I’m struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply.

Nathan Hermans

committing suicide because of cyber bullying FIRST WORLD PROBLEM

I’m not doing this for attention.

Casey Jones

…This whole bullshit is just for attention. If she was being bullied so bad on facebook, hmm how about deleting her fucking facebook??? People like you are ignorant as hell.

I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong

 iNoScoped JFK

…Survival of the fittest …She clearly was weak emotionally and lacked intelligence.

I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself [than] someone else. 

Philip Rose

In real life, Amanda was a bully herself – verbally attacking girls who she deemed to be less pretty. To a great extent, she reaped what she had sown. Why on Earth do you think the hatred still goes on?

Haters are haters but please don’t hate, although [I’m] sure I’ll get them.


…It was her idea to flash in the first place, even though she was told by her parents(probably) to not do things you will regret for the rest of your life.

I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and [everyone’s] future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through.


She knew that the choices she made… [were] wrong, but she still did them anyway. It was her own fault that people bullied her.

I’m still here aren’t I?

– AmandaTodd (2012)