Musician and Herald columnist Lizzie Marvelly has a long and rocky history on the receiving end of cyberbullying and was taken by surprise when she first experienced it.

She said it initially started when she was a fulltime musician but it was more to do with her appearance rather than being related to opinion.

Marvelly spoke to the Herald after the release of a report that shows cyberbullying in New Zealand is costing communities and support organisations $444 million a year.

It wasn't until she began speaking out more on social media when she started to experience push back from members of the public.

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"It was never really about the issue I was talking about and the type of backlash was always inevitably personal," she said.

"When I started writing for the Herald it became like a tidal wave, it kind of came out of nowhere and took me very much by surprise.

Marvelly, who recognises herself as a "resilient person", said her self-esteem took a hit following tirades of abuse online.

The constant negativity from the attacks started filtering into other area of her life and lingered in the background.

"When you are facing a barrage of horrible nastiness, you can't really help but be affected," she said.

Singer-songwriter and columnist Lizzie Marvelly said her self-esteem took a hit following tirades of abuse online. Photo / Doug Sherring
Singer-songwriter and columnist Lizzie Marvelly said her self-esteem took a hit following tirades of abuse online. Photo / Doug Sherring

"There will be people who say I don't read or think about it but I'm pretty sure anyone who has been abused has seen it.

"It's very difficult to be a machine and not have any feelings around it - it did have an impact on me."

Marvelly said her friends and family were really helpful when she told them about the cyberbullying she received and encouraged others to speak out.

A psychologist was also helpful, she said, in finding ways to deal with the abuse because it had a real impact on mental health.

When asked what advice she'd offer to others who are experiencing similar abuse her message was simple: "Don't suffer alone".

"It can be very isolated being attacked on social media so reach out to people in the real world and potentially reach out privately online.

"If you see something happening to someone online and step in it can be very helpful as well. And don't be afraid to block and mute and ban, it's not worth it."