An open letter about Belle Gibson

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I’m going to put a question to you. It’s not a comfortable question, and one that I don’t like to ask. But I’m going to do it anyway.

If Belle Gibson took her own life, could you say 100% that you had nothing to do with it?

I can’t.

Powerful words

Like most of you, I have been disgusted by the acts she is accused of. I have shared articles on Facebook and I have even liked the Facebook page ‘exposing Belle Gibson.’

But it was not until yesterday that I read this and realised that we have gone too far.

“Former classmate Meg Weier said that Ms Gibson was quite strange.” Taken from the dailymail, UK.

Well, fuck me, she must be guilty!

We have clearly run out of things to say about this issue, but we’re finding something to say anyway.

It got me thinking back to Charlotte Dawson, and her suicide that many believe was caused by cyber bullying. After she died we talked a bit about cyber bullying, but then we just kinda moved on. Did we not learn anything?

You see I was bullied as a kid and it sucked! Like, really sucked. Like, yes- I did think it would be easier if I didn’t have to get up the next day- sucked.

But I would go home, or hang out with my friends on weekends and escape my bullies. I didn’t have to worry about them. They weren’t in my house; they didn’t enter my personal space. So I got through it with the support of my friends and family.

Cyberbullying vs Bullying

Ms Gibson’s bullies are in her home. They are on her phone, her tv, her computer. She really can’t escape it. Her mental health must be absolutely on the edge.

Sure, she may not have cancer like she claimed, she may not have the scans to prove her illness, but just look at the facts here guys—anyone who has gone through what she went through, what she has put herself through, is clearly very unwell.

I get that people are angry; I understand that Ms Gibson may have actually made a lot of people really unwell. You know what, I’m a bit angry too.

But I am going to take a different path. I am going to advocate for her safety and the safety of her child. I am going to offer my support to Belle Gibson, a young girl whose mental health must be very frail.

And I get that you can’t advocate with me, and that’s fine. But let’s stop the cyber bullying before it’s too late.

With love,

Cassandra J.

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28 thoughts on “An open letter about Belle Gibson

    Sally said:
    April 7, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Ok, hey I get it. But this lady tried to convince people with cancer to not take their chemo/radiotherapy and instead follow her dietary advice to cure their cancers (like she supposedly did). Doesn’t that make her a mass murderer? No sympathy here. Sorry. She should be in jail.

    Like

      cassandraleej responded:
      April 7, 2015 at 8:37 am

      You’re right, what she did is not justified. In any way. In any shape. In any form.

      Like

    iknowbelle said:
    April 7, 2015 at 7:52 am

    you wouldnt be posting this if you knew her personally….

    Like

      Cait said:
      April 7, 2015 at 8:11 am

      I so agree with you!

      Like

      Ella said:
      April 7, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      I think she also wouldn’t be posting this if it was a middle-aged man in a suit who had lied about dying to make money from the dying.

      Like

      emma said:
      April 8, 2015 at 4:15 am

      Please can you contact me on my email? I am a journalist with a magazine and would like to talk further.

      Like

        emma said:
        April 8, 2015 at 4:20 am

        this request is to ‘iknowbelle’

        Like

    Cait said:
    April 7, 2015 at 8:10 am

    I never respond but articles like these are making me mad. You are basing this story on the fact that you ‘think’ she has mental heath issues but you don’t know. What if she is just a crap person who did a really crap thing and doesn’t care? Sounds like you wrote this as you would feel bad for your own actions / comments if she hurt herself. You are making assumptions with no facts. For all you know she could be at home drinking expensive champagne laughing at us all and those with actual cancer. You just don’t know do you?

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      cassandraleej responded:
      April 7, 2015 at 8:34 am

      You’re right, I don’t. I wrote this after a mutual friend expressed concerns for Belle’s mental health, and I read through some comments calling for Belle to kill herself and I thought to myself, gosh- she must be in so much pain.
      But I didn’t know that, and I still don’t.
      I stand by my concern for cyber bullying, it is a huge issue. I do strongly believe we need to be more accountable for what we say online. I am terrified of the future of cyber bullying.

      These days, however, I am less concerned for Belle Gibson.

      Like

    Craig Thomas said:
    April 7, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Belle Gibson is a disgraceful liar and con-artist. Her choice, not mine, and crying “bullying” is not a valid defence for her wilful, persistent dishonest behaviour.

    Like

    Ella said:
    April 7, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Demanding justice from someone who has voluntarily launched a fictionalised life story into a public forum and then used that story to deceive and defraud a large number of people is not “bullying,” by any definition. Prosecuting Bernie Madoff, or holding Lance Armstrong’s lies up to scrutiny, is not bullying either.

    Moreover, Belle is not the underdog in this scenario. She has profited exponentially from a fabricated cancer story. She achieved both fame and success by exploiting the sympathies of people more vulnerable and less wealthy than herself. If you want to get technical, she was the bully.

    As for the risk of suicide, Belle herself has to take responsibility for her mental and emotional wellbeing going forward. And she could do that quite simply by coming clean, making amends, and adopting a new policy of honesty and integrity in her public and professional life.

    Like

      CJ said:
      April 7, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      I agree. who even said the girl had mental problems. sounds like the classic case of a liar that has been caught. i agree 100000% Ella

      Like

    Ann said:
    April 7, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I am a survivor of stage 4 colon cancer. I lost a sister far too young to this crap. I also lost a family member to suicide. You have absolutely no right to pull the suicide card in defense of Belle Gibson. There is zero evidence that she suffers from any mental illness (except in the sense that obviously one is not operating within societal norms when one chooses to con vulnerable people out of their money and possibly, their lives).

    If Belle was a 60 year old man who was convincing people to invest their money into a financial scheme that ended with him absconding with the funds, would you still argue we shouldn’t be online (on a site which no one is required to read) discussing the case?

    As suicide is probably always a slight possibility in any situation where someone has been caught out in criminal behavior, should we never go online and discuss any cases like this, ever?

    Think about it a little bit more before you insult both cancer patients and those with true mental health issues in one fell swoop.

    Like

      CJ said:
      April 7, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      Why is she hand-holding? I agree 100% with your response Ann. Yeah she is a little girl that got caught in all her lies and it is clearly affecting her lifestyle. She is upset and pouting. She is acting cowardly by not addressing the public. I can’t beleive she even compared suicide. Belle is too narcissistic for suicide. Give me a break. She was trolling Facebook on people’s pages until someone caught on to her. She needs to be a WOMAN and do the right thing and speak her truth.

      Like

      cassandraleej responded:
      April 7, 2015 at 11:18 pm

      Hi Ann,
      I am very sorry for your loss and any offence caused. It was not my intention to insult people, it is my intention to get us talking about Cyber Bullying, and get us accountable for our words. Just like Belle is likely culpable in the death of individuals, so is everyone who goes online and thinks it’s funny to bring people down- no matter who it is they are bringing down. No one is invincible. From what you have said here, you are not a bully. And you’re right, there is a huge difference between people who discuss online and those who bully (aka troll). This article is for the latter.
      Thanks for your comment,
      Cassandra.

      Like

    CJ said:
    April 7, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    She made comments about how people are trying to make articles for their own gain?!?! Does that sound like someone who is truly hurting. It sounds like a narcissist. I know a woman that has bypassed conventional treatment and reached out to her who were dying and ill from a brain tumor. She encouraged via email this person in particular to go with all natural treatments. I understand this is a choice, but it was misleading. She should be in jail. This woman I know is now in conventional treatments because well, frankly Belle’s method didn’t work. I suppose it worked for her since she REALLY DIDN’T HAVE CANCER! Who is bullying her? How about her ‘open letter’? how about speaking the truth and giving back all the money she stole based on a lie. I have no sympathy for that trashy behavior. I suggest you talk to people who knew her personally or that she lied to and affected personally. Another thing: why doesn’t she have enough respect to address all the people that supported her with….hmmmm can we say THE TRUTH! I am over all these people having sympathy for this girl. These are lives we are talking about….influential and vulnerable people. Where is your sympathy for them?!!! I call them victims. Belle should be behind bars. Her having a child or not, means nothing. Should a serial killer walk free because they have a child??? your article is ridiculous and frustrating.

    Like

      cassandraleej responded:
      April 7, 2015 at 11:02 pm

      Hi CJ, thanks for your comment. I don’t agree that she should walk free, and her case will be brought to the fair claims tribunal and I do hope that she is charged if she is guilty with what she is accused of.
      What I also hope is that we, as a society, can learn from her in a different way about the power of words, in both a negative and positive way. If you can’t apply my article to Belle, and I get that some people won’t be able to, maybe you will be able to use it in the future when you think you are just saying something off the cuff online.

      I’d also like to add, this article was written a decent while ago. I don’t necessarily feel the need to advocate for her anymore, but I do advocate for ANYONE who is suffering mental illness (this is not conditional) and the need to removed the stigma around mental illness.

      I hope I have clarified some of your concerns.

      Thanks,

      Cassandra.

      Like

    CJ said:
    April 7, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    BTW Cyberbullying?? She has a right to go online and look and read all the comments. Most people are just pissed and upset. No one wants her to die. Again, I know someone who was personally affected by her. People are disappointed. She painted herself to be the ‘great white hope’, this amazing individual who survived 5 types of cancers all with a healthy diet and meditating…who in the end straight up lied. Surely you can relate to someone’s frustration to find out it was all a lie…a big SHAM. I don’t think anyone is cyberbullying her, people just want to know the truth. And her mental health is affected because of her lies. We have all told a white lie and had to hold our head in shame if someone caught us in the lie. The difference here is that she put herself out there to the masses, so her lie is bigger. What makes it more harmful is that it truly affected lives in a very bad way. you should write an open letter to Belle about accountability and honesty.

    Like

    louise said:
    April 7, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Cassandra bravo! I’m with you 100% on this one. To have compassion for someone doesn’t mean to condone or even forgive what they have done. To not bully Belle doesn’t mean we have to pretend we agree with her choices – but to call names, say that someone should kill themselves or they should die, etc is bullying. One can be angry and upset with what she’s chosen to do, and hold her accountable to her actions, without throwing insults and threats. Thanks for putting this opinion it there.

    Like

      cassandraleej responded:
      April 7, 2015 at 11:49 pm

      Thanks for your comment Louise. You’re right in that disagreeing with what she did vocally, and bullying, are two very different things!

      Like

    April said:
    April 7, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    So, does every con artist have mental health issues? If so, then should we not talk about the horrible things they do (even when they convince people with cancer to stop treatment)?

    I think Belle Gibson’s attractive looks and innocent face drew people to her in the first place and now it has people still feeling sorry for her. If she looked like some of the plain, middle-aged or unattractive women who fake cancer, would people still feel sorry for her?

    Belle is one of many people who have been caught faking cancer. But unlike the ones with Munchausen syndrome who shave/wax their heads or starve themselves to lose weight so they look the part, she got her teeth fixed, bought expensive clothes and put out an edgy glamorous image.

    If it’s Narcissistic personality disorder, then she will never change and will never be a good person. That personality disorder is not curable, not even through eating whole foods.

    Were the traveling salesmen who put on medicine shows to sell fake cures also suffering from mental health problems? Or, like Belle, were they so obviously in it for the money?

    Like

      cassandraleej responded:
      April 7, 2015 at 11:52 pm

      Hi April. Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I don’t have the answer for you. I am in no way condoning her actions, I am in no way saying that she is a good person. I am simply saying that if we as a society use our words to cause harm, then we are no better than her.
      Thanks,

      Cassandra.

      Like

    Zach Nelson said:
    April 8, 2015 at 1:07 am

    The thing is Cassandra that this lowlife has profited from lying about a disease. Go and speak to actual cancer survivors and people suffering from this disease and tell me if you still feel she doesn’t deserve the outrage from the general public. Is she being bullied? NO! She is being told what a disgusting act it is to lie about having cancer and then profit from it!!

    Like

      cassandraleej responded:
      April 8, 2015 at 1:39 am

      Hi Zach,
      I don’t disagree with the outrage. Truly I don’t! I disagree with the bullying. And there is a difference, and both are happening.
      Thanks for taking an interest!
      Cassandra.

      Like

    vikki b. said:
    April 8, 2015 at 1:43 am

    Hi Cassandra. I think most readers of your article understand your *intent*, and most likely agree. But anonymous people online (and here I am, anonymous to you and anyone else reading), whether intentional or not, when emotional, have difficulty expressing tactful words onto an online forum – when those emotions are about innocent people getting seriously harmed by an anonymous, lying, cheating, self-serving “health guru”, emotions run very high. Even those who articulate well, it doesn’t matter to people like Belle Gibson, or Jess Ainscough, or to so many people like them. The only difference between Belle and Jess, for example, is that Jess really did have cancer, but she also peddled bad advice to anyone who would listen to her, unfortunately, she regretted the choices she made about her health (but not about selling books, giving bad advice, lecturing to others about her “cure”, and so on). Jess also did not have the fortitude to tell her fans until it was much too late, and even then, her words were so vague as to not even hint at apologizing for leading others down a path that could kill them. Belle just flat out ignored everyone and then had the audacity to play the victim card. Did she ever once give thought to her son and what her actions could do to him? What about her partner and her son’s father and anyone else close to her? Those who know her best, seem to know Belle isn’t going to change, so being narcissistic, self-serving, egotistical and above everyone else, well, there’s just no medication for that, Belle is going to have to answer to a lot of people, to her family and friends, to her son, and to herself.

    No, she nor anyone else ever deserves to be bullied, whether in person or online. That said, people like Belle should have thought about the repercussions before putting her self-serving interests above the welfare of others. In time, Belle will be forgotten, just as the many thousands before her since the dawn of snake-oil salesman, fraudsters and hucksters. Whether she escapes punishment or sits in jail, now is the time to call people out like Belle, to help prevent this from happening to others. It’s ok to feel sorry for their mistakes, that’s natural human emotion, but we don’t have to worry about the likes of Belle Gibson, because there are thousands like her ready to take her place and scam and harm others. The lesson has been taught, over and over and over, many of us are frankly tired of those like Belle Gibson not giving a care in the world to those lessons, just keep on scamming and hurting others. That’s evil, not mental illness.

    Like

      cassandraleej responded:
      April 8, 2015 at 1:59 am

      Hi Vikki,
      What a beautiful and thought provoking comment. Thankyou!
      Today, three weeks since I wrote the article, I am a lot less worried about Belle. But I am still very concerned for future victims on online bullying. It is real, and it is really horrendous for those who fall prey.
      Let’s use this shitty act to come up with some new lessons about this evolving society of ours and this ol’ social media thing. Let’s learn to not be arseholes online (and I’m not saying you have been, and I’m not saying Belle wasn’t). When the dust settles and Belle becomes just another memory, lets have gained something from what she did. Let’s own our words in ways that she never has.
      Thanks Vikki.

      Cassandra

      Like

    Cass said:
    April 22, 2015 at 5:24 am

    With the statement she made this week I think it’s likely that this is all going to spark up again, obviously, and with more information people have the ability to draw more conclusions. For me though, the crux of the matter is your opening question; “If Belle Gibson took her own life, could you say 100% that you had nothing to do with it?”

    My Nanna died of cancer. She went through 4 rounds of chemo, so I know exactly what it looks like. I know how desperate people are to believe that they can gain power over their illness. That they can fight and win as though it were an enemy combatant. They respond to charismatic claims like this, and sometimes they succumb unnecessarily to something we COULD fight, and that’s a sickening thought. I’m angry, I’m wildly angry, and I think that there should be seriously strict laws and seriously deterring consequences for people who pull this crap.

    But I don’t want to be responsible for another death. Even partly. The authorities are involved, the truth is going to come out and hopefully such restitution’s as can be made, will be.

    These feelings are less about her, and her well-being, and more about me, to be honest. They are about MY peace of mind, my codes of behavior and the ways in which I want to conduct myself. I fall short sometimes, I lose my cool and say things that are pretty awful, and sometimes those awful things might even be justified (I hope they are anyway.) Someone elses failings don’t give me permission to revel in my own though. If I want to be a better person, I have to strive for that all the time, not just when it’s easy.

    Liked by 1 person

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