From The Straits Times    |

#HerWorldHerStory is a collection of 60 women sharing their successes, passions, challenges, inspirations, hopes and dreams. Together, they give a snapshot of what it is to be a woman today.

Every month from March till August, we present 10 women navigating their lives now – and in their own words. Here’s Christabel Chua’s story…

Styling Isabella Chan Dress, Shirts & Accessories H&M Suits Seed Heritage Hair Ash Loi/ Sonder Hair, using Keune Haircosmetics Singapore Makeup Zoel Tee, using Estee Lauder

I never thought that I would become a victim of the Internet – a platform that launched my full-time job as an influencer. But it happened two years ago, when an intimate footage was circulated online without my consent. Prior to that, I was a happy-go-lucky girl who used Instagram to connect with others who shared the same hobbies as I did. I would regularly update my followers with the happenings in my life.

Imagine: the worst thing that could ever happen to you, uploaded on the Internet for the world to see. Despite your best efforts, you’re unable to stop the circulation that should never have been shared.

My life was turned upside down. When your work is so closely intertwined with your life, everything is personal. I couldn’t “resign” from the constant scrutiny, harassment and judgement I received from people who didn’t understand the context or put themselves in my shoes. I even received lewd messages in my inbox from strangers.

It was the lowest point of my life. Nothing in the world can prepare you for something so sudden and so cruel. I asked myself, “How do I make this all go away?”, “What am I to do next?” and “How am I going to overcome this… or will I not?”

Months later, I decided to distance myself from people on social media. So I immediately unfollowed everyone, and followed only accounts with positivity.

It took me a year to get back on my feet… but it wasn’t easy, although I had a lot of support, encouragement and love from my parents and best friends.

I figured that it I had to be the one to make the first step to regain myself and my confidence. So, I put all my energy into my work (outside social media). Even if I had to get out of the house to meet people, I did so. I told myself that I have to restart my life at some point.
I also took the time to grow my business, kāi, an online lifestyle brand that sells accessories and stationery. It helped me keep my mind off negative thoughts. It took time but gradually, I regained control of my life.

I believe there are others out there who need to hear my story and know that they’re not alone. I walked away from all the trauma a better person than I was before, and if I can do it, so can you.

This article was first published in Her World’s May issue. Grab a copy today!