Kate McCann has revealed she has been the target of internet trolls as she prepares to take part in Sunday’s London Marathon.
She said: "We [her and husband Gerry] have obviously had a lot of abuse over the last six years, so in some ways it's nothing new. I think we tend to get a little bit blasé, which is wrong because you shouldn't do because it's bad.
"It is internet abuse and we both feel really strongly that more should be done about internet abuse. People wouldn't get away with behaving like that in the street and yet they feel like they can hide behind a computer at home."
Kate, whose daughter Madeleine vanished from a holiday resort in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007, added that she believes more needs to be done to tackle online abuse.
She continued: "We do have children. Even sometimes when I do think they're cowards and I'm not even going to go there, then I think about my children and I think it's not right that they should come across stuff like that as well."
While Kate did not specify the type of abuse she had been receiving, she may well be reassured to know convictions for internet abuse have more than doubled in the space of five years alongside the enormous growth in popularity of social media sites.
Official figures show the number of people found guilty under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 has grown each year from 498 in 2007 to 1,286 in 2011.
Kate, who is also mother to eight-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, also revealed she plans to go ahead with the race despite some recent health issues.
She explained: "It's been quite a slog and I think anybody who attempts a marathon knows there's a lot of training involved.
“And it's gone well really until the last five weeks. I've got a couple of problems, I've had a recurrent Achilles tendon problems…and I’ve also got a problem with the joint in my left foot."
Earlier this week the mother-of-three revealed she “could probably forgive Madeleine’s abductor” as her missing daughter’s 10th birthday approaches.
Speaking to the Telegraph, she said: ““I think I could probably forgive Madeleine’s abductor whatever the circumstances… I can’t change anything and I don’t want to be eaten up by hatred and bitterness.”
She added: “There are moments when you despair, but they are infrequent now. As someone said: It’s not that your burden gets any lighter. It’s just that your legs get stronger. That really sums it up.”