“I’M sick of it. If you are too, join me and let’s tackle it.”
For Carlton star forward Tayla Harris, a case of cyberbullying many would hope to forget has become a crusade for others in her position.
More than a year after hitting back at bullying comments on a post of the Blue in action, Harris spoke on The Project about what it means to stand up for yourself with a platform.
“That particular saga was certainly a strange experience and one that I had to really tackle on the go and had to make a few decisions that could have made, or even hindered, what ended up happening,” Harris said.
“Those being the fact that I stood up for myself, the fact that I made the decision to stand in front of a press conference and speak out about an issue that I felt was awful.
“Obviously I was affected publicly, but this kind of stuff - as everyone knows, is within schools, in communities, in young people, older people – it’s horrific.”
Defending herself in the moment, Harris now recognises the flow-on effect her actions have on the prevalence of online bullying in Australia.
Whether it’s other athletes, public figures like herself, or school-age social media users, Harris believes the response should be the same.
“I just couldn’t stand for it anymore and here was an opportunity right in front of me to make a massive statement and say, ‘I’m sick of it. If you are too join me and let’s tackle it.’
“I hope that a lot of people felt represented in the way I was speaking and the fact that I just wasn’t standing for it. Hopefully that’s allowed people to feel confident to say, ‘You know what, I’m not either.’”
Harris has played AFLW since its inception, first with the Brisbane Lions before moving to Ikon Park ahead of the 2018 season.
While the AFLW continues to go from strength to strength in the lead up to its fifth season, Harris believes it’s that progress that often prompts online abuse.
“All of a sudden we’re finally getting a piece of the pie and people aren’t liking it,” she said.
“I think that anyone who can’t handle change, then this is one that they’re really struggling with and online is evidently the perfect place to show your emotions.
“My boxing coach always tells me, if someone’s trying to drag you down that just means they’re below you.”