Abby Broyles—who made national headlines for a bizarre story about being belligerently drunk at a child’s sleepover—ended her campaign for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District on Thursday in an emotionally raw blog post on Medium detailing her decades-long struggle with anorexia, anxiety, insomnia and alcohol.
The post opens with Broyles describing the aftereffects of her suicide attempt in a hotel room more than 1,300 miles away from her home, where she had been staying in an effort to stay safe. “I’d received death threats, got obliterated by cyber cowards hiding behind their computer screens and furiously typing on their keyboards, and got bombarded with prank calls (from people who found my number online) telling me to drop out of politics and go kill myself,” Broyles wrote.
Broyles, a former television journalist, detailed her struggles with severe anxiety and insomnia for the last 20 years. In college, she added anorexia to the mix, using it as a punishing tool for her low self-esteem. At 22, she started drinking. “My work [as a local journalist] got noticed. The ‘local celebrity attention’ I got at bars, events, and even the grocery store fed my hunger for self-worth, but I still drank to quiet that middle school-aged girl inside me saying ‘I’m not good enough,’” she wrote.
Broyles would become an even bigger story when she challenged longtime U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) in 2020 as a part of a wave of Democrats attempting to take back control of the U.S. Senate. She lost, but went on to run for Congress, which brings us to the sleepover.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend, Broyles was invited to chaperone a tween girls’ sleepover at the house of a former law school friend. There, and this is not in dispute, Broyles drank and mixed sleeping medication. Party attendees, both tweens and adults, claim Broyles berated the girls, called them names, made fun of their acne, and vomited in multiple places. “It was like it was a switch and she started being rude to people. Early in the evening, she had been nice,” a 12-year-old sleepover attendee told NonDoc, a nonprofit organization published by Sustainable Journalism Foundation in Oklahoma.
“We were all sitting around, and she was just going around in a circle saying rude things and would end with ‘F-er’ and saying ‘F-you’ to all of us there — really rude things,” the tween told NonDoc. “My friend has acne, and she had been talking about her acne early in the evening, and then [Broyles] called her an ‘acne F-er,’ and she ran upstairs crying.”
Broyles herself says she doesn’t remember that night. “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,” she wrote.
In her campaign-ending post, Broyles referred to “a mom who wasn’t there” who tweeted about Broyles’ actions at the sleepover. “[She] decided to use a ghost Twitter account and send a series of public tweets to me several days after the sleepover accusing me of saying awful things to her child and the other young ladies present while intoxicated,” Broyles wrote. She seems to be referring to Sarah Matthews, a mother of one of the sleepover attendees. On Feb. 16, Matthews posted four tweets about Broyles and the sleepover. Her tweets were then covered by NonDoc before getting picked up by national outlets.
Broyles apologized on Feb. 22. “I want to say sorry from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for any hurt or damage or trauma that my behavior, when I didn’t know what I was doing, caused,” Broyles said. “I’m deeply sorry.”
Broyles’ blog post didn’t explicitly apologize, and she managed to take a shot at the woman who hosted the party. “To this day, I still have no recollection of what actually occurred that evening and have not spoken to my now former friend as she conveniently threw me under a bus to superficially avoid further interrogation from her ex-husband during their custody battle,” the ex-candidate wrote.
Broyles said she’s been in rehab for a few weeks. “I’ve gone the longest I’ve ever gone without a drink in more than a decade,” she wrote.
She added: “I should have asked for help sooner before I wound up Twitter roadkill, especially before jumping into the cutthroat political arena.”