Paloma called out abuse – and inadvertently started a movement.
Like many people in their 20s, Olivia was on Tinder. And like too many women on the internet, she was the subject of violent abuse and threats. Thankfully, her story ended better than most – because a brave friend helped her to stand up against the abuse and contact the police.
The incident began when Olivia posted a profile picture on Tinder. It was a smiling photo of herself with friends. In her bio, she included a line from a popular Drake song:
“Type of girl that will suck you dry and then eat some lunch with you.”
According to New Matilda, it was only hours later that this line prompted an online reaction that escalated to hideous threats of sexual violence.
In an attempt to shame her, a man named Chris Hall on Tinder shared Olivia’s profile publicly on his Facebook.
Above her smiling face, Chris Hall wrote:
“Stay classy ladies.
I’m surprised she’d still be hungry for lunch.”
Olivia tried to engage with Hall and asked him to remove his post. He refused, and Olivia opted to share his Facebook post on her own Facebook page – entreating her friends to condemn his behaviour.
What she didn’t expect was that friends of Hall would descend on her Facebook page and fill it with sexually violent threats against Olivia and her friends.
Click through to read some of the abuse (language warning):
As the threats of violence escalated, Olivia’s friend, Paloma Brierley Newton, stepped in.
Paloma Brierley Newton shared the most grievous threats on her Facebook page, where it was quickly picked up by others who were equally as enraged over the sexually violent threats.
Speaking to Mamamia about her decision to publicly call out the abuse, Paloma said Olivia is “incredibly strong and she’s a really thick skinned woman… It’s the first time I’ve ever seen her cry, and it’s the first time that I’ve ever gotten incredibly angry about how someone’s treated someone over the Internet.”
Paloma said the decision to call out the behaviour was easy: “It was so black and white. There was no question about whether these people were in the wrong or not.”
After apparently receiving little help from police, Paloma has now set up a petition online calling for police to be trained in the dangers of online violence – and how they should respond.Part of the petition reads:
“There are currently few education programs in place that enable law enforcement professionals to respond appropriately to online harassment and sexual abuse.
Please join us in calling on the Australian and NSW Parliaments to get up with the times and deal with online sexual violence!”
Paloma and her 13 friends are continuing the fight against sexual violence online with the Facebook group and hashtag #SexualViolenceWontBeSilenced.
Paloma has a simple and effective response for people who abuse women online:
“There is no justification for this behaviour. We’re sick of this normalisation and this harassment… [it’s] just got to stop.”
Will you support Paloma’s petition?