West Ham Vice-Chairman Karren Brady has published a column in the Sun in the wake of the Caroline Flack tragedy to highlight Internet abuse celebrities face.
The Baroness writes “It’s easy to say that words will never hurt us.
But the truth is that internet trolls who attack and criticise people — often women — create a negativity that chips away at the soul.
We all know that online trolls are cowards who allow themselves not to think about how much harm they cause as they hide behind the veil of social media.
But sadly, Caroline is just the latest in a long line of celebrities who turn out to be as human as the next person — susceptible to words of hatred and scorn that are, I am afraid to report, an inevitable and nasty side-effect of being a woman in the public eye.
I have pretty much always been on the receiving end of abuse, often from football supporters who can spout the most hateful stuff.
More often than not it comes from middle-aged men with daughters and families of their own who still think it is somehow OK to have a go at me even though I have nothing to do with transfers or the team and clearly don’t play football (not that that would make it OK either).
The abuse I get is vile. And so much worse now than it’s ever been.
It is very personal, hateful and targeted. Internet trolls often reduce me to the way I look as a way of attempting to belittle me.
“Slag” and “slut” are words I often read — the words that are used to sexualise abuse against women.
I’m a resilient person. And, at the age of 50, I’ve got a lot of life experience under my belt.
But it can still get to me.
It’s not the individual attacks so much as the steady stream of abuse — people talking about slapping me, killing me and accusing me of things I haven’t done.
I’ll be honest. Instead of getting easier to handle, it gets harder.
Especially because my “misdemeanour” — and that of most women in the public eye who face abuse — is that I dare to put my head above the parapet, to have a mind and a voice of my own and to plough my own furrow.
I’m sure a lot of men (who don’t know me) would like me to get back in the kitchen and make the tea.
But even if I tell myself to ignore whatever it is being criticised — my weight, my hair, my job — and even if I know that the only thing that matters is what I think of myself, and what my family and friends think of me, that’s sometimes easier said than done.
People can be great, of course and often are. But they can also be vile. And the vile ones have more impact.
Twitter doesn’t do nearly enough to stop that. (The last time I reported a tweet to Twitter when someone said he was coming to “give me a slap”, I was told it did not violate their rules.)
My only power is to do the one thing they do not want me to do, ignore them.”