AFLW star Tayla Harris says she was subjected to “sexual abuse on social media” after a photo of her became the target of disgusting and vile comments.
Some of the biggest names in the AFL rallied around the Carlton star after the image was attacked by online trolls on Tuesday.
7AFL posted the incredible image of Harris in full flight during the Blues’ three-point win over the Western Bulldogs on the weekend.
The photo highlighted Harris’ remarkable kicking style and showed off her athleticism.
Unfortunately, the post attracted hundreds of vile comments, many of a shocking and inappropriate nature, prompting 7AFL to eventually remove it.
That decision saw the AFL community rally around Harris, with fellow players, commentators and punters reposting the pic.
7AFL later reposted the photo themselves and apologised for taking it down, stating they would ‘continue to celebrate women’s footy’.
We're sorry. Removing the photo sent the wrong message.
Many of the comments made on the post were reprehensible & we'll work harder to ban trolls from our pages.
— 7AFL (@7AFL) March 19, 2019
‘I’m feeling empowered’
On Wednesday morning, Harris said she felt “empowered” by the reaction from her peers.
“I’m feeling empowered this morning because of the reaction that has come, so it has been a bit of a whirlwind,” Harris told RSN Radio.
“A lot of people got on-board including Patrick Dangerfield and other high profile people [who] posted the photo and said ‘let’s share this rather than deleting it and letting them win essentially’.
“I kind of saw that and felt a bit warm inside, it felt great.
“Obviously the AFL community got around me and that was awesome, but it isn’t about me now, it’s about a way bigger picture.”
‘It was repulsive and made me uncomfortable’
Harris said she was repulsed by some of the comments, describing them as ‘sexual abuse’.
“It’s not about me now, it’s so much bigger,” she said.
“We’re definitely not talking about the trolls right now, we’re talking about a whole bigger picture, it’s society now.
“I don’t want to give oxygen to the trolls, but one thing that happens to come to my mind when I saw the comments … I can see in people’s photos they’ve got kids, or they’ve got daughters or women in their photos even and that is the stuff I’m worried about.
“Perhaps this is an issue that might need 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 take it further.
“This is the start of domestic violence, maybe this is the start of abuse and the comments that I saw were sexual abuse. It was repulsive and it made me uncomfortable.
“Whether it’s Victoria Police or whatever it is, need to contact these people and give them some sort of warning, Facebook need to delete them and something needs to happen.
“We can talk about it as much as we want, but they are not listening. And they (trolls) are probably smiling about it because we’re talking about it.”
— Patrick Dangerfield (@dangerfield35) March 19, 2019
— Stephen Quartermain (@Quartermain10) March 19, 2019
— Neroli Meadows (@Neroli_M_FOX) March 19, 2019
This is Tayla Harris – epic athlete & footballer. This is AFLW. pic.twitter.com/JIbFvhqwTm
— AFL Women's (@aflwomens) March 19, 2019
This is a brilliant athlete in full flight. Something to celebrate. Just over three years ago women did not play Australian Football at the elite level. The result of this leap – a goal from 40m out. @aflwomens @taylaharriss #taylaharris https://t.co/HJsxAYsROD
— Nicole Livingstone (@NicLiv) March 19, 2019
This was pioneer Tayla Harris four years ago, before AFLW even existed. She’s long been the perfect poster girl for women’s footy. Thankfully, her mighty kicking action hasn’t changed. Sadly, some people haven’t either. #kicklikeagirl pic.twitter.com/aZqJK6uwp1
— Sam Landsberger 🗯 (@SamLandsberger) March 19, 2019