Beauty and the Trolls

In the wake of Charlotte Dawson’s untimely and tragic death and the hypocrisy we’ve seen displayed in the media and by those who have most probably previously slated her, and some who still continue to do so, we feel that it’s appropriate to make a stand.

The underlying horizontal hostility in some opinion pieces. The assumptions, the judgments and the terminology; all tarnish Charlotte’s memory and talent.

Now none of us here knew her personally. But from where we sit she was treated pretty appallingly by New Zealand and Australian media, the public and her various management.

Firstly Charlotte Dawson was not ‘troubled’, as some media outlets broadcast it. She suffered from depression.

The black dog; a debilitating disorder that can sink people to the absolute depths of despair. If you’ve never suffered from it, then you’re lucky. And you’re possibly one of the few.

Yes Charlotte suffered from depression, but that didn’t make her troubled, it made her depressed.

Charlotte was beautiful. Absolutely and without question. But that wasn’t the totality of her reality.

She was intelligent, professional, witty and honest. She wasn’t scared to share her opinion, challenge an injustice or champion a cause.

She was up front about her short comings and the mistakes that she made. She was likeable and strong, she was human and she was abused.

Charlotte, as are so many in our society, was targeted by bullies. In this instance, hateful social media trolls who hide behind their screens and slate other people, just because they can.

Many of the things those trolls stated on social media sites about her and the way in which we’ve seen people damage others within that forum, can easily be compared to the things we’ve heard from the hundreds of women who use our services about their abuse, from their abusers.

Comments like; ‘go and hang yourself. ‘You’re an ugly mole’ etc… What makes these comments any less damaging or any less abusive than those made to nearly all of the women and children who use our services? Does it really make a difference, if you’re not intimately related? It doesn’t.

The only difference is that these comments come from strangers, often anonymously, and it makes them no less damaging and no less harmful to the human psyche.

So what possible connection can social media trolls and Charlotte’s death have to do with the safety of women and children?

Violence and abuse come in all forms, including social media.

Social networking trolls get off on the power they feel from degrading someone and this is no different to the power that an abuser feels over their victim, when they abuse in domestic relationships.

What makes it acceptable to degrade in a social media setting with effectively no come back, yet claim that violence, and in our business, domestic violence; is not ok?

If it really isn’t OK, then why do so many of our country men and women feel it appropriate and acceptable to abuse in online forums from the safety of their laptops, whilst often claiming that domestic violence isn’t OK?

Because there are no consequences and it makes them feel powerful.  Often there is no way the victim can challenge their behaviour and if they do, they run the risk of having even more abuse hurled at them. They risk their personal safety.

This is the very same reason that perpetrators of domestic violence get away with their crimes.

And make no mistake, this is a crime.  It is abuse. It is violent.

It’s bloody awful that a beautiful, talented woman is no longer with us. It’s even worse that she wasn’t the first and will certainly not be the last, if we don’t wake up and take a long hard look at our behaviour.

It’s a crime that pseudo journalists write opinion pieces that covertly claim she took her life because she was getting old and was no longer commercial.

Give us a break and have some journalistic integrity!

The way Charlotte was abused is really no different than those women who use Refuge services. The only difference being, she didn’t have any bruises to show. They were all on the inside.

This country and our people have a really nasty habit of tearing people down when they raise their heads above the pulpit and that’s simply not OK.

So be careful with your words and your snide little side comments.  They hurt.

And when you claim that domestic violence isn’t Ok, take a little time to think about your own behaviour. Is it violent? Is it harmful? If you have to even think about that, it most likely is.

Don’t be abusive, be supportive. And if you have nothing nice to say, remember what your grandmother used to tout, and say nothing!

Charlotte didn’t deserve that. No one does!


  1. Great article and fabulous point about people saying no to abuse and then doing it through a different avenue. Any type of abuse is not OK whether it’s in person or on a social media site, it’s all the same and does damage…


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