Oklahoma congressional candidate ends run after ‘berating young girls’ in rant

Abby Broyles, 32, announced that she’d checked into rehab and was terminating her campaign for Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District

Johanna Chisholm
Friday 25 March 2022 17:27 GMT
Abby Broyles, a former Democratic candidate for Oklahoma , announced she had checked into rehab and was removing herself from the race after last month’s controversial sleepover rant
Abby Broyles, a former Democratic candidate for Oklahoma , announced she had checked into rehab and was removing herself from the race after last month’s controversial sleepover rant (KFOR)

The congressional candidate in Oklahoma who was accused of verbally abusing a group of teens at a middle school sleepover last month has announced that she would be ending her campaign.

Abby Broyles, a former investigative television journalist, wrote in an essay self-published on the site Medium on Thursday that she had checked herself into rehab a couple of weeks ago and instead of continuing her bid to become the Democratic candidate for Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District, she would be refocusing on “myself and my happiness”.

“​​Now’s the time to take on my own fight that I’ve been running from for 20 years: facing my mental health challenges head on,” Ms Broyles wrote, after detailing how she’s struggled with mental health issues for the better part of the past two decades, including severe anxiety, insomnia and an eating disorder.

The 32-year-old Democrat became embroiled in a media frenzy last month when multiple parents complained about her profanity-laced behaviour directed at a group of middle school aged girls attending a Valentine’s Day sleepover at one of her friends.

In the essay, Ms Broyles explains how she “hit rock bottom” after the sleepover incident led to her becoming “national clickbait”.

There was an episode, she describes, where she was admitted to an emergency room after she “drank heavily” in a hotel room and then proceeded to swallow sleeping pills, a reaction she says was in direct response to the “anguishing in pain reading about myself on social media and in tabloid articles”.

Initially, the former attorney denied the claims raised by the parents, alleging that NonDoc, the outlet that first broke the story, had gotten it wrong and she hadn’t even attended the party in question. She later recanted that denial and, just days later, apologised on air during an interview with KFOR, the local news channel she used to work at as a journalist.

“I want to say sorry from the bottom of my heart, I apologise for any hurt or damage or trauma that my behaviour, when I didn’t know what I was doing, caused,” Ms Broyles said during the interview with KFOR. “I’m deeply sorry.”

A combination of wine and a sleeping pill, she had said, was to blame for her incendiary remarks made to the teen girls during a night in which, she says in the Medium post, she still “honestly can’t remember” what took place.

Election 2022 Oklahoma 5th District
Election 2022 Oklahoma 5th District (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“The alleged hurtful comments this woman claims I made under duress do not represent who I am, and to this day, I still have no recollection of what actually occurred that evening and have not spoken to my now former friend,” Ms Broyles writes in the essay.

The woman who Ms Broyles references in her essay, Sarah Matthews, whose daughter attended the party, described the former Democratic candidate’s alleged actions in a Twitter thread.

“Since it’s been five days and you have neglected to reach out to any of the young ladies (12 & 13 yr olds, including my daughter) you verbally and emotionally abused last weekend, I thought I would give you a chance to try to apologize (at a minimum) here,” Ms Matthews wrote last month, while tagging Ms Broyles.

“For someone who pontificates to be undyingly pro woman, I am disgusted by your behavior and find it appalling you couldn’t understand why their parents are angry. Your vile, cruel, and bigoted behavior should not be excused or ‘swept under the rug’.”

The other parents who levelled these accusations against the Oklahoma politician, allege that, alongside directing profane language and slander at their children, Ms Broyles also commented on everything from one teen girl’s ethnicity to another’s acne.

Parents then alleged that Ms Broyles, after launching into these personal and derogatory attacks, threw up in the nearby laundry hamper and on one of the girl’s shoes.

Ms Broyles says that she chose to write about the intimate and uncomfortable details about her last few weeks as “I should’ve gotten help sooner, and if you’re suffering, please know, there is help”.

While the thrust of her essay does concede that her bid for Congress is over, the last few lines of her essay hint that she might have other plans for the future.

“I don’t know what the journey ahead for me looks like, but I’m grateful to be alive with a fighting spirit and keep my promise – I’m not done yet.”

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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