Culture

“Something Needs To Happen”: Tayla Harris Has Delivered A Powerful Response To Online Abusers

"If these people are saying things like this to someone they don't know on a public platform, what are they saying behind closed doors?"

AFLW star Tayla Harris responds to social media abuse

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AFLW star Tayla Harris has given a powerful radio interview calling out sexual abuse, after a photo of her on social media was inundated with misogynistic comments.

A photo of Harris posted on social media by Channel 7 was targeted by sexist football fans, who left vile comments about the Carlton forward and women’s football in general. Channel 7 was further criticised for their decision to delete the photo rather than ban the trolls. The network eventually reposted the photo, along with an admission that removing it “sent the wrong message”.

Since the abuse began, Harris received an outpouring of support from the footballing community, with players across the women’s and men’s competition, as well as football journalists, administrators and legions of fans calling bullshit on the behaviour of her abusers.

Speaking to Melbourne’s RSN radio on Wednesday morning, Harris described the comments as “sexual abuse”.

“I saw the comments. I know I shouldn’t read them, but it’s hard not to,” she said. “It was repulsive, and it made me uncomfortable.”

Harris also said she was worried for the women in the lives of the men who attacked her.

“I don’t want to give oxygen to the trolls, but one thing I had in my mind through all this … I can see in people’s profile pictures, they’ve got kids, or they’ve got daughters, or women in their photos,” she said. “And that is the stuff that I’m worried about. So perhaps this is an issue that might even have to go further. Because if these people are saying things like this to someone they don’t know on a public platform, what are they saying behind closed doors, and what are they doing?”

“These people need to be called out by the AFL, yes, but then taken further. Maybe this is the start of domestic violence. Maybe this is the start of abuse. The comments I saw were sexual abuse.”

“[Victoria police] need to at least contact these people, or give them some sort of warning,” Harris added. “Facebook delete them, something needs to happen. Because we can talk about it as much as we want, but they’re not listening.”