My name is Daisy Soita and if I died now, I would probably have a pretty long eulogy with no pictures of my childhood, teenage life, or even my youth to back it up. A beautiful story with no proof… if you have been a victim of cyberbullying and online violence, this will ring a bell…
I can barely remember the last time I had high self-esteem when it comes to my appearance. Even though every girl has their own low points when it comes to self-esteem, I often felt like mine was triple what everyone else felt. I wanted to be beautiful and admired but then the mirror gave me nothing but disappointments.
My face was just not pretty enough, my body was just not close to what I felt I should be and no matter what I did, it just never got better. So when I ran out of options, I decided it was time I learned to embrace myself for who I am.
I wanted to be beautiful and admired but then the mirror gave me nothing but disappointments. – Daisy Soita Click To Tweet
“When my Photo became a meme and I was body shamed, I thought that was it and I wanted my life to end.”Daisy Soita
Survivor Series Podcast Interviews by Cecilia Maundu
How Daisy Soita Learnt to Appreciate Herself again after Cyberbullying
The first step was learning to appreciate the outstanding things that I had. So not long ago, I embraced the cluttered sound of a camera and began taking more pictures than I did before, I went out shopping for latest trends, I started going for shoots and I also applied to be a plus-size model.
“A perfect platform to embrace my inner and outer beauty and take more pictures than ever before”, I thought.
I got invited to take part in an Ankara Festival fashion event and as the date of the event approached, there was a need to hype it up. We began going for shoots to advertise the upcoming invent. The first shoot was a beach shoot. I asked my best friend to accompany me and on arrival, I was a stranger among many, I only knew my plus one. Still, we blended in and took part in the shoot. As usual, we took pictures in groups, pairs, and even solo.
Daisy Soita was Trapped Within Technology (Possibly Forever)
The morning after the shoot, I woke up to a couple of edited pictures already posted in the WhatsApp group, one of them being mine. I remember texting the photographer and asking him not to share the pictures I had taken with the boys since I wasn’t comfortable with them out there. So, he went ahead and deleted the one he had already posted in the WhatsApp group.
Technology didn’t make it any easier for me since those with anti-delete still had access to picture. For a moment, I believe I had it all solved.When my Photo became a meme and I was body shamed, I thought that was it and I wanted my life to end. – Daisy Soita Click To Tweet
My first modelling beach shoot turned into a nightmare one morning when I woke up and got a WhatsApp message that had my picture turned into a slut-shaming meme.
Am not sure I know how exactly it is that I felt, but I was sad, frustrated and so confused. I sought advice on what to do. My best friend advised me to discover the source and confront them on who might have shared the picture considering that I hadn’t shared it on social media.
Uncovering the Source of the Meme
My little investigation led me back to the guy I was with on the picture as the sole sharer of the picture to the meme lord. I managed to convince the meme lord not to share the meme.
However, by confronting the source I lit up a fire I couldn’t put out. I later learned that the picture had then been posted in a meme lords group and made a challenge. Now every meme lord was getting creative with some of the most shameful quotes they could come up with. Things had spiraled out of control, neither me, not the photographer could control the situation.
Sooner than I thought my phone kept buzzing, my friends kept calling and strange numbers kept texting. It was everywhere, from WhatsApp to Facebook to Instagram. I had eighteen different versions of memes with my picture on them, they were probably more, I just got tired of counting.
Each meme contained a different message, nothing positive, only slut-shaming words. As though the memes were not enough, someone still went ahead and created a WhatsApp sticker from the meme. How could a complete stranger be so cruel to a sweet soul like me?
Comments about Daisy Soita on Social Media
The comments on social media tore me down. Everyone had an opinion about the meme. The rate at which it was being shared on social media was devastating. I cried a river, sobbed myself to sleep but still, it didn’t get any better.
My friends kept asking questions, others mocked me, some took pity on me while others stood by me and encouraged me.
I could not face my parents let alone open up to them. I gave myself an ultimatum of telling them or letting the cruel word become the storytellers of my misfortune to my own parents.
I barely stood in front of my mirror to look at myself, my self-esteem had been shattered. I felt like a disappointment to myself and my family. I locked myself up in my room unable to face reality. My self-respect had been torn down and I was depressed.
How did Daisy’s Family React?
The more I embraced the idea of speaking to my mum and dad about it the more depressed I became. The thought of the same lips that once told me of how proud they were of me lashing words at me tore me down even more.
I felt like I deserved to die, I wanted the earth to consume me and spare me the shame and embarrassment that awaited me. The thought of committing suicide tormented me and at some point, I almost gave up. I remember holding my phone and googling some of the easiest ways to commit suicide. I wanted to run away from the stares and murmurs of people across the street when I walked by but my legs were too weak.
Often at times, I drowned myself in sorrow and thoughts that barely made it better. The texts from strangers didn’t make matters any better. So I decided to switch off my phone, seek help and face my misfortune.
My Mother Breaks Down with Me
So one morning, I remember walking towards my mum with tears in my eyes just before she left for work, I figured it was about time she got to know what was happening. As soon as she saw the meme and saw me sobbing in front of her, she could tell I was broken. She was my mother, only she would understand her daughter’s pain. She hugged me and got me a glass of water. Surprisingly enough she understood the circumstances that had befallen me. She knew I wasn’t courageous enough to face my father and talk about it so she took it upon herself to explain it to him.
We thought of the way forward, we considered going to court but we barely knew where to start. A friend convinced us to go to FIDA but considering how long cases in Kenya take, it would be years before the case was concluded. Years of spending money and time wasted not knowing if it will all be worth it at the end.
The best part of everything revolved around the support and love that my family showed me. They gave me the strength to take it a day at a time.
People’s Feedback on Daisy Soita’s Story:
Violence is just violence. It’s a shame how people do not realize it an turn it into something to laugh about. And that says so much about them.Tracey Doyi
Wow, you are really doing good to motivate fellow women and to raise their dignity and confidence. With the way you are going Online violence will be a thing of the past if many people join hands with you. Good work Cecilia. Keep it up!Stephen Edger
Wow, it is such an encouragement to women from online harassment.Shaz Maina
Please keep highlighting such issues. Keep up the good work….. amazing work ?.Esther Pefuli Mihadi
Survivor Series: Other Cases of Online Violence and Cyberbullying
1. Nancy Kwamboka AKA Nana: My Online Harassment Experience:
Nancy Kwamboka is the head of the station at Egesa Fm, a vernacular station which broadcasts in Egusii language. Nancy has been trolled, harassed, and abused online and today she shares her story in our continuing series of “survivor stories”.Nancy Kwamboka has been trolled, harassed, and abused online and today she shares her story in our continuing series of "survivor stories". Click To Tweet
2. Jeridah Andayi: An Online Victim tells it all
Jeridah Andayi is a broadcast journalist and the brand manager at radio citizen. She has been a victim of online violence multiple times, but after the pandemic started it has taken a turn for the worst. She was a guest on my podcast to share her experience and give advice on how to mitigate online violence.Jeridah Andayi has been a victim of online violence multiple times, but after the pandemic started it has taken a turn for the worst. Se shares her experience and gives advice on how to mitigate online violence. Click To Tweet
About Cecilia Maundu – The Survivor Series Host
Cecilia Mwende Maundu is a broadcast journalist based in Kenya. She is also a specialist in gender digital security training with experience training women, journalists’ and human rights defenders. She is the current elected secretary-general of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) Kenyan Chapter.Online gender-based violence exists within a context similar to what happens in real life. It is just as destructive as offline violence. – Cecilia Mwende Maundu Click To Tweet
Cecilia is on the quest to make sure that even the most vulnerable feel safe online. She is also a User experience expert (UX) and leads training on collecting feedback and evaluates how effective online security tools are. All this in creating a holistic approach to digital security.
Ms. Maundu is a graduate of the University of Nairobi where she completed a Bachelor of Arts. She also has a Master of Arts in communication from the same university. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Communication Studies at Moi University in Kenya and her thesis is on “digital security in this era of data mining”.
Why we should take online violence against women and girls seriously during and beyond COVID-19Online violence is a public health issue and the effects are very detrimental. It results in physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm, and erodes self-esteem. – Cecilia Mwende Maundu Click To Tweet
Cecilia Mwende Maundu the current Secretary-General of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, Kenyan chapter.
During COVID-19, women, and girls are using the internet more than ever to stay connected with the world, but they are also the targets of online violence in the form of physical threats, sexual harassment, stalking, zoo bombing, and sex trolling.
UN Women is asking governments to commit to enhancing women’s and girls’ online safety and is supporting women’s organizations to strengthen their advocacy efforts during COVID-19.
Here, Cecilia gives her top digital safety tips.
Conclusion on Online Violence – Daisy Soita
Time heals all wounds indeed, Daisy Soita may not be as soar as before but the bruises are still there and maybe that’s why up until now she still hasn’t been able to stand in front of a camera and say cheese.
She took it upon herself to secure her online activities. She changed her passwords. Limited people’s access to her online activities.
Got rid of toxic company.
Her information online is now only accessible and visible to those she considers fit.
Online violence may have damaged a part of her but it still opened her eyes to a new level of online safety.Online violence may have damaged a part of me but it still opened my eyes to a new level of online safety. – Daisy Soita Click To Tweet
About Daisy Soita
Daisy Soita is a Journalism and mass communication student at the Technical University of Mombasa.