Charlotte Dawson: 1966 - 2014.

Charlotte Dawson

Since her sudden death just a couple of days ago, we’ve learned a lot about Charlotte Dawson’s on-screen persona, but also the Charlotte Dawson behind the screens. The woman who, for many years, has battled a dark depression.

We’ve learned that Charlotte was a caring and compassionate person; one with a wicked sense of humour, who nurtured young people in the industry.

But what we’ve also leaned is that Charlotte Dawson had a troubled life, from the very beginning.

Born in Auckland, Dawson’s biological mother, who was a teenager at the time Dawson was born, put her up for adoption.

At the tender age of sixteen, Charlotte Dawson left her native New Zealand to work for Ford Models in New York. And she never looked back.

In the early 1990s Dawson moved to Australia where she worked as a fashion journalist on the Today Show, which is also where she met colleague and close friend Richard Wilkins.

Her career took off, and she became the beauty and fashion director for Woman’s Day and the Style Editor for New Idea. In 1999 she married Olympic swimmer Scott Miller, but the marriage ended just a year later.

Dawson – who was 32 at the time – later admitted that she had fallen pregnant but had an abortion. In her book Air Kiss and Tell that was released in 2012 she said:

“I could sense some hesitation in Scott”. “My due date would clash with the 2000 Olympic Games and this was very concerning.

“Everything Scott had done was leading up to this moment and nothing could stand in his way, so it was decided that we would terminate the child and try again later. Who needed a developing foetus when a gold medal was on offer, eh?”

“I felt a shift,” she wrote. “Maybe it was hormonal, but I felt the early tinges of what I can now identify as my first experience with depression.”

In 2001 the couple, who were known for the partying ways and fun loving lifestyle, divorced. Rumours began to emerge that Miller had cheated on Dawson, but it has never been confirmed.

Speaking to Fairfax’s Jo Cassemento just last week, Dawson said:

“It was a painful time in my life and it might not be good for me. To me it’s well over 10 years ago. This broke me very much. I had to go away for five years and leave this country and rebuild my life … I’ve adjusted and moved on but it is still very painful.”

A year after her divorce Dawson moved back to New Zealand where she hosted a string of shows including ‘How’s life?’ and ‘Getaway’. It was on TVNZ that Dawson met her birth mother. Dawson stayed in New Zealand until 2007, where she returned to Australia to be a judge on Australia’s Next Top Model alongside Alex Perry.

And then along came social media.

In recent years, there has been many a story about Charlotte Dawson’s long battle with trolls on social media.

The star herself had said that the fact she does Botox and is a single, childless woman over 40 made her a target of misogynistic vitriol. But in 2012 a line got crossed and Charlotte was admitted into hospital. At the time Mamamia reported:

When one Twitter user urged Charlotte to “please go hang yourself” this week, Dawson’s followers immediately sprung to her support – including one whose fiance had committed suicide. The troll responded with the tweet: “If I was your fiance, I’d hang myself too.”

Charlotte tracked down the twitter user, and contacted her over the phone, and then reported the incident to her employer – Melbourne’s Monash University. The user has now been suspended from her university mentoring job. Charlotte also appeared on A Current Affair last night to speak about the incident. You can see that here.

What happened next was a tsunami of abuse of pure hate that no person, no matter how strong, could ever be expected to take. The fact that a “#diecharlotte” hashtag appeared on Twitter is a testament to the twisted minds of trolls.

After experiencing 7 hours of these kind of comments, Charlotte simply tweeted: “Hope this ends the misery…” and “You win.”

Charlotte had long taken a stand against abuse on social media. She was an ambassador for the NRL’s anti-bullying campaign, and regularly stood up to trolls.

Dawson was axed from Australia’s Next Top Model at the end of last year. She was set to launch a home wares line later this year.

On Sunday night, friends of Charlotte Dawson launched an online campaign on Change.org called ‘Charlotte’s Law’. The petition calls for tougher cyber bullying legislation from the Australian Government and greater accountability from social media companies. It already has over twenty thousand signatures.

To sign the petition, click here.

If this post brings up issues for you, or you just need someone to talk to, please call Lifeline on 131 114. You can also visit the Lifeline website here and the Beyond Blue website here.