Be kind, because the glittery post said so

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard by now that British TV personality, Caroline Flack, ended her life over the weekend.

The discourse that followed was the same as usual, sorrow, anger and expressing shock and horror that someone took their life after relentless and constant harassment over a prolonged period of time. Now, here’s the good part, apparently the solution is to be kind, just be kind everyone. Oh and also, PSA! The media are entirely to blame and no one else, that part is the biggest thing to take from this, so if you’ve ever sent a death threat or harassed someone online, chill out, you’re not “the Media” so you’re the good guy, go you!

Being on social media over the last few days has just been upsetting and frustrating, being messaged about Flack’s suicide has been hard and from a journalism point of view, it’s not news that British tabloids have no integrity.  It’s also not news that celebrities are people too but apparently people outside of the media playing a role in her suicide is news? I have a question, did no one else get the memo about using social media responsibly after Amanda Todd and Phoebe Prince died by suicide? Does anyone remember them? Don’t lie to me, I see you.

Caroline Flack’s death was a shock regardless of who she was, that said, she is not to be absolved of what she did either. Why does someone have to die for it to occur to people that no one is culpable for their actions online and that that is extremely problematic? People never learn, your posts about kindness prove that because you weren’t spouting that crap when she was alive. Take a look at your own life and the people in it and look at your behaviour.

Now, here’s a perspective for you and you’re not going to like it, I just want you to reflect on this for a second and then you can go back to preaching kindness and puppies.

Flack, as I’ve said in a previous post, was a domestic abuser, she was due in court for assaulting her boyfriend with a lamp and he feared for his life which can be heard in a phone call to the police where he says “she’s trying to kill me, mate”. Domestic abuse is not a mistake, get that through your head nice and swiftly because it is a real and dangerous issue in society that often results in both suicide and homicide.

As someone who was emotionally, psychologically and sexually abused by an ex-boyfriend, I have hated every second of the reporting of this case because everyone is calling it “human error”, “a mistake” and not something to give shit for. Domestic abuse ruined my life, I am 22 years old and already, I have lost a huge part of myself that is going to take years to get back. The last two years have been hell, the last year in particular as I have had to accept that I did not leave that relationship unscathed.

On top of that, I have had to deal with vicious and disgusting rumors being spread about me by people who don’t even know me in a personal capacity. Imagine being 20 years old, being confident, fiery and not afraid to challenge yourself while also somewhat managing deep insecurities relatively well. I was ready for anything, I was in a much better head space than other people my age. I had started university, I was in the middle of a campaign that made history in Ireland and for Irish feminism and someone who I thought loved me, respected me and believed in the same things I did, used all of those insecurities against me.

Feeling like you don’t even have ownership over your own mind is torture, you fear every thought that enters it because of the consequences. You feel guilt because your abuser has made you believe it’s your own fault you feel so worthless. Not owning your own body because their need for dominance and gratification is more important than your need to feel safe and to just get some damn sleep.

On top of that, when I finally ended that relationship, I still had to deal with people accusing me of horrible things that go against every cell of my being. I had people stalking my profiles online looking for dirt, oh, good luck with that by the way because years of bullying before you taught me how to post impersonally. I was advised against speaking about this but I don’t care anymore, people are nasty and now’s the time to address that.

There are so many things I can no longer do that made me who I am, for example, activism, real activism, paralyses me with fear. Not hearing back from organisations after I’ve scrounged up the courage to contact them hits me more personally than ever because I don’t know what they’ve heard. What hurts more than anything is that no one told these bullies to stop, no one said it was wrong, no one has had to take responsibility for their actions. I know if I was dead it would be different, it would be talked about and realised and that is so messed up.

No one should have to die for you to realise when to just stop, it should not a take a celebrity death plastered all over the news to see that there’s an issue here. We should not be overlooking one serious issue to place another on a pedestal. We haven’t moved on from medieval methods of shame, we’ve simply moved them online and prolonged them. You can no longer escape a good public shaming, today, they last forever. The legal course of justice isn’t enough so others compromise it as they try to deliver their own justice, which is just self serving really.

What’s not being talked about is that we endorse and defend these bad people every single day, we do it because it’s easier than taking responsibility for our part in this. We don’t defend our friends when we hear vile things, we don’t acknowledge wrong doing until something like this happens that can’t be ignored. It will always take death to put things into perspective and that’s why we won’t ever get there, that’s why this kind of discourse is pointless. People don’t learn, they forget and then they remember and then they forget again.

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