Ashlyn Harris Responds to 'Unbearably Painful' Cyberbullying Over Ali Krieger Split: 'This Has Been Brutal'

The USWNT player said the online abuse she's received has “devastated my mental health”

<p>David M. Benett/Getty</p> Ashlyn Harris

David M. Benett/Getty

Ashlyn Harris

Ashlyn Harris is speaking out against the online hate she's received following her split from ex-wife Ali Krieger.

The USWNT player, 38, posted a lengthy statement on Instagram Saturday, in which she discussed the “unbearably painful” abuse she's faced over her divorce from Krieger, 39.

“Several weeks ago, a process that had been ongoing privately for some time became public,” Harris began. “Ending a relationship after almost 13 years of friendship, teammate-ship, marriage and co-parenting (many of them good years) is a decision that was not made lightly.”

“We agreed to center our children, continue therapy, separate, and to move forward with our lives. Two happy families are always better than one unhappy one. This process is never easy, but we were making our way through,” she continued.

<p>Roy Rochlin/Getty</p> Harris has received "painful" online hate after splitting from ex-wife Ali Kreiger

Roy Rochlin/Getty

Harris has received "painful" online hate after splitting from ex-wife Ali Kreiger

Related: Ali Krieger Says Daughter Sloan Has Been 'So Sweet and So Encouraging' Ahead of Last Soccer Game (Exclusive)

Then noting that she and Krieger — who retired from professional soccer this month — had initially planned to go public with their separation after her final game, Harris said a “leak” made that “impossible” for the pair.

“The online hate that has happened since has been one of the most personally devastating experiences of my life,” Harris wrote. “Now, I know that it is best practice in the world of online gossip 'not to feed the beast. Don’t respond. Don’t let them see you sweat.' Just hide away until the tabloids and Internet trolls decide to feast on someone else. For weeks, I have tried to take this advice. I have tried to let the fire burn out and what I’ve experienced has devastated my mental health. This has been brutal."

“Words matter. The cheering on abuse, the people clamoring to encourage me to commit suicide, and the cruel words spoken about my children, and who I am as a mother? Those words matter. Someday my kids are going to be able to read the hate that strangers on the internet wrote, all because those strangers had an unsolicited opinion on my health and happiness? What are we doing here?” she continued.

Harris then spoke about rumors as to the reason for her split with Krieger, writing, “People have run with a narrative that’s unbearably painful. Not all marriages last forever. Ours did not. For many reasons."

<p>Brian Ach/Getty </p> Harris filed for divorce from Kreiger on Sept. 19

Brian Ach/Getty

Harris filed for divorce from Kreiger on Sept. 19

Related: Sophia Bush and Ashlyn Harris Had First Date a 'Few Weeks Ago' as They're 'Both Beginning New Chapters' (Source)

“Let me be clear: I did not stay out of my marriage. I was always faithful in my marriage, if not always totally happy. Like in many partnerships, there was work in therapy and processing done. None of this happened on a whim. We spent the entire summer working to tackle the separation and divorce steps outlined for us by our therapists, lawyers, and our shared agency,” Harris said.

She added that she is “finally choosing my own health and happiness” for the sake of “a better future for my kids.”

“What has made this complex and difficult experience harder than I could have imagined is to have had an entire community turn on me while I’ve been moving through this,” Harris continued. “I spent my whole career trying to build an inclusive space where people can show up as themselves and where they know they will be safe."

<p>Getty Images</p> Harris is now dating actress Sophia Bush

Getty Images

Harris is now dating actress Sophia Bush

"Right now, it feels like the entire community has poured gasoline on me and lit the matches," the mother of two wrote. "So many of you, including people who stand publicly as anti-bullying advocates, have cheered this on like bloodsport. As though a family in transition is on opposing teams. Like a divorce is a battle, one person stands to win."

“I want to be clear that pushing someone to the edge? That isn’t a win. No one 'wins' here," she added, before going on to say that her “priority is, as it always has been, my kids” and to be a “good co-parent to them with Ali.”

Harris finished her statement by recognizing the love she and Krieger shared, asking for some humanity as she and her family navigate a painful time.

“Despite this current darkness, there have been years of love between us. And the kids are the best part of it all. They deserve two healthy and happy parents, and that’s what matters most,” she wrote. “We are all in pain. I share all of this to remind people that bullying anyone about a personal decision, especially when that bullying is rooted in lies, really hurts.”

“I’m hoping that instead of continuous cruelty, you can remember the simple truth that I’m a human being, a mom, and a good person just trying my best," Harris concluded. "I’d appreciate if you could take a breath and treat me and my family with some humanity.”

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Harris filed for divorce from Krieger after four years of marriage on Sept. 19. She is currently dating Sophia Bush after the actress' split from husband Grant Hughes, PEOPLE confirmed in October. Harris and Krieger share two children, daughter Sloane, 2, and 1-year-old son Ocean.

Harris and Krieger first met in 2010 as they played for the United States National Team. They announced their engagement with PEOPLE in 2019 and married that same year in Florida. 

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