Silver Ferns shooter Cathrine Tuivaiti (nee Latu) has been cyberbullied because she was bigger than most netball players - and that used to hurt.
But having a surer sense of who she was made it easier to deal with other people's criticism, she said.
"It still gets to me but I know myself more now. Talking to my partner and my friends [helps]."
Although she was quick to stand up for herself and others, Tuivaiti said she remembered there were always younger people watching and learning from her actions.
"Fighting fire with fire never helps anyone and it doesn't make you feel better either," she said. "I'm never malicious because I always know someone's watching. I want [young people] to see about being strong, not about being nasty."
The netballer, who is 1.9m tall, lost 15kg in 2013 but said at the time it wasn't because of what people said.
Talking about how she felt about bullying with family and friends was key.
"I don't think saying ignore it is a realistic message," she said.
"The more we say we don't care, the more it gets us when we're alone."
When a fellow athlete, Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei, was attacked on social media after an energy drinks and prescription pills scandal last month, Tuivaiti came to his defence.
"When I saw Manu taking all this ... my heart really went out to him.
"I saw this man who had given his life to league for our country.
"For him to make a mistake, that let's be honest, a lot of people have made in their life, I felt that he didn't deserve that."
As well as receiving hateful messages on social media, Vatuvei's children were also subject to schoolyard bullying.
Where to get help:
• In an emergency: call 111
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633, or text 234 (available 24/7) or firstname.lastname@example.org or live chat (between 7pm and 11pm) http://livechat.youthline.co.nz/mibew/chat?locale=en&style=youthline
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155 (weekdays 11am to 5pm)
• NetSafe: 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723), www.theorb.org.nz