Absolutely bloody awful was my gut wrenching reaction to the Caroline Flack tragedy.
It took me by surprise, shook me to the core, and has stayed on my mind all week, as we all talk in the town about the tragedy.
Now, I am shocked, saddened, and angry. We all should have seen it coming but conversely it came out of nowhere.
For me, it was the normal Saturday teatime ritual, long flowing locks coiffured, a pre-made curry chucked in the pan, the promise of a party night drinking and dancing..and that flick of the kitchen telly switch.
Then, boom, there it was ‘Caroline Flack Found Dead’ sombrely announced, just as my phone started lighting up with those breaking news bleeps.
We all knew that she had taken her own life didn’t we. And I just had to say something then, and I’ve got to say something now.
What a totally tragic tale, that this feisty, funny, gorgeous, glamorous, talented and tenacious woman, was brought so unbearably low that she saw suicide as the only way out.
I know she had her flaws, but for fecks sake, haven’t we all. And who hasn’t had a drunken disaster of a row with a lover, partner, or friend. I know I have.
If we are lucky, we sober up, self-reflect, maybe even seek help, and our strong support system sees us through.
If we are unlucky, like Caroline was, we are smeared savagely, gossiped about gratuitously, and betrayed by the very people we trusted enough to turn to .
But does it even matter now that the cut on her bloke’s head was not grievous , and the blood on the bed, in that picture so sickeningly sold to the tabloids by one of her toxic mates, was hers.
The damage has been irretrievably done, leaving us to lament her loss, and lash out at the populist press, the jaded justice system, and the social media cess pit.
Now before some of you give me a mouthful, and think I am in any way condoning this type of crime, please take a seat. Yes, I totally get that domestic abuse should always, always be investigated.
And I am well aware of the shocking statistics that show more women killed by partners than in any other way. That is a national disgrace and a source of shame.
I’m just not convinced that this was exactly what it was portrayed to be. Nor was it a campaign of coercive control, or a violent, habitual offender reverting to type.
And that just because someone says something, several times, loudly, it doesn’t make it true – no matter who believes it.
For me, the Police allegedly failing to pick up on the forty year old’s fragile mental state was quite an epic fail.
And the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) stance to pursue the case at all costs, whilst barring her from seeing the boyfriend she depended on, was extremely harsh.
Fragile Caroline Flack was absolutely petrified that she’d forever be smeared as a domestic abuser with absolutely no proof of that at all.
That the bodycam footage of that night, showing her distress in a deep, dark, place would be played out to the public.
And that she had lost her credibility, career, reputation, and any chance of a fair trial. What an absolutely petrifying position to be in – left lonely, low, and let down.
My Counsellor friend tells me that there is also a proven suicide risk for people facing trial with a potential for prison and loss of career.
But that, outraegously, there is absolutely no system for supporting people within the criminal justice system who are vulnerable.
And please don’t give me all that, it would have been worse if she was a man justification either, thank you.
Think of how the media, and society actually, treats women – from Diana to Amy to Rebekah to Megan. The names change but the humiliation doesn’t. In my view, there is something deeply misogynistic here too.
Look how Chris Brown’s career, after he was actually convicted for brutally attacking Rihanna, hardly missed a beat.
And how Ant McParlin was protected and supported whilst he fought his booze and prescription pills addictions – despite smashing his car into a young family.
So to those who I’ve chatted to compassionately about Caroline whilst out and about this week. And who have showed some serious empathy, genuine kindness, and such sorrow for her, her family, and friends. Respect.
To those terrible trolls, bloody judgemental bullies, and gutless malicious gossips, who just love to kick someone when they are down.
And are still bloody doing it, behind the keyboard of course, even now.
Shame on you.
For me, it’s there for the grace of God go I, and all that.
Caroline Flack, you were one of us.
Rest in Peace.
Click on the link if you’d like to sign the Caroline’s Law Petition which has been set up to campaign against media intrusion.
Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.
One of Wales Arts Review 100 Women Writers of Wales, the dedicated community supporter, passionate arts lover, and award-winning queer activist, will keep you “informed, entertained and inspired.”
Mrs SVJ, Barry’s Boldest Blogger, can be contacted here.