From growing up with an abusive mother to getting convicted of second-degree murder, 32-year-old TikTok star Gypsy Rose Blanchard has lived many lives.
In July 2016, Blanchard was charged with second-degree murder for devising an elaborate plan with her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, to kill her mother and abuser, Claudine (Dee Dee) Blanchard. She was sentenced to 10 years but was released on parole on Dec. 28 after completing 85% of her sentence.
Today, Blanchard is TikTok’s newest hyperfixation. It seems as though many online users have taken her side. In just a month, Blanchard acquired a combined total of 17.9 million followers across TikTok and Instagram.
The controversy of her case makes the media a dangerous place for her. Blanchard must get off TikTok and stay away for her safety and sanity.
Blanchard’s immediate, post-release presence on social media
Users on social media anticipated Blanchard’s return to society, creating video edits and even showing up at Chillicothe Correctional Center for her release. Shortly after, she joined TikTok.
On Jan. 17, 2023, Blanchard posted a video on TikTok explaining her purpose and intentions with her platform.
“I wanted to kind of bring things back to the point of why I am on social media, to begin with, so the whole point is to spread awareness of Munchausen by proxy,” Blanchard said.
Healing should be the first priority
Blanchard grew up in an unstable home environment. From infancy until the age of 23, her mother subjected her to medical abuse, lied about her health conditions to doctors and subjected her to unnecessary treatments.
After freeing herself from her abusive environment, Blanchard was immediately taken into custody and imprisoned for eight years. And while Blanchard reported having a good experience in prison, it is nowhere near a stable environment.
Some UM students, Like junior marketing and legal studies major Caroline Mueller, wonder what effects incarceration could have on mental health.
“I think being in prison is a very difficult environment to be in, regardless if some prisons may have better environments than others,” Mueller said. “It is also so isolated from the real world. I can’t imagine the shock ex-prisoners experience when they get released.”
Damaging effects of social media use post-trauma
While TikTok may seem less harmful than Blanchard’s childhood home or jail cell, the platform could be a toxic, unstable place for someone with a history of abuse and complex trauma.
Bella Haham, a senior biochemistry major, remarked how the critical nature of TikTok could be difficult to navigate for Blanchard if she loses support.
“People get death threats for posting innocent dance or outfit videos,” Haham said. “Gypsy may seem like she has a lot of love and support now, but I don’t even imagine what would happen to Gypsy if her audience were to switch up on her.”
The National Library of Medicine explains that social media presence following a traumatic event is associated with a higher burden of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Social media will likely not do much to help Blanchard’s condition, and may even have damaging effects on her trauma.
Will Blanchard return to jail?
Since Blanchard was released on Parole, she is still subject to strict conditions of supervision, which could land her back in prison if violated.
On the “Disrespectfully” podcast interview with actress and TV personality Katie Maloney, Blanchard allegedly denied her contribution to her mother’s murder, leading individuals online to believe she may end up back in prison.
“I don’t associate myself as a murder, because if you think about it, yes, I had a part to play in it. I requested — I asked Nick for help,” Blanchard stated. “And then the plan kind of formed from there. But he’s the one who did the actual kill, not me.”
If Blanchard believes she is not guilty, then Blanchard’s true beliefs could cause her parole to be revoked — leading to an additional two years in prison and potential consequences for her social media presence.