Terrifying moment that broke Erin Molan
Erin Molan has revealed the terrifying moment she believed an online troll was breaking into her home at 2am to attack her unborn daughter - after days of savage abuse on social media.
The Nine sports presenter broke down in tears in an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday as she detailed the horrendous messages she was sent in the days leading up to that moment.
She began the interview by saying she had put up with online abuse for years on rugby league sites, and she had just copped it.
"Every single one was either that I was a woman, that I was ugly, that I looked like a slut, that I'd never played the game, that I belong in the kitchen," she said.
"About different footballers that I've had dalliances with, about bosses at Channel 9 that I must have slept with. It's just vile."
She insisted she was not a "snowflake" and said attempts to deflect the blame onto the victims of online abuse was "bulls**t".
"I am absolutely not a snowflake,:" she said.
"The other tens of thousands of Australians who are abused online are not snowflakes. I'm so sick of this victim, shaming bulls**t.
"There is a s**tload of stuff that I will accept. There are certain things I won't accept, that doesn't make me a snowflake."
However, she said there was one message - sent when she was pregnant with her daughter - that really shook her up.
"I WISH YOU A F**KING STILL BORN, AND YOU DIE IN THE PROCESS. HIP HIP HOORAY," the vile message read.
She said the sickening message "really hurt" and took her to some "pretty dark places" - particularly given what had happened to her sister.
"I have an older sister who had a stillbirth, carried a beautiful little girl to full term, Emily," she said
"And to watch her bury her child and stand up with a little coffin and say, mummy loves you and she's so sorry.
"To sit there and watch my sister go through that, meant that my pregnancy was fairly anxious throughout. So to start to receive messages of that nature, really impacted me."
However, it was a terrifying moment - as she lay in bed in her home - days later that sent her over the edge.
"We were lying in bed and we're asleep, it was like one or 2am it sounded like someone had, like a window had smashed or someone," she said. "It was just a massive, big smash. "And I thought that he'd come in, and he was going to try and do what he was saying he was going to do to my baby."
She said the moment pushed a button in her mind.
"That was kind of the moment where I thought I can't do this any more," she said. "So I went to the police and look, they were amazing, but it's not easy for the police to prosecute and to take action, because initially there weren't enough messages, then more and more kept coming."
60 Minutes reported that the man behind the campaign targeting Molan, himself a father of young girls, was eventually charged by police and became a rare case where a troll is convicted.
However, he only received a suspended sentence for his behaviour.
Molan claimed Facebook didn't want to know about the behaviour on their platform.
"I've reported these messages to Facebook, their response was that they were not considered offensive," she said. "They are not doing their best, not even close."
She wants to see online trolls locked up.
"This is not about celebrities. This is not about politicians. This is about every single Australian, because this impacts every single Australian," she said. "The time to ignore trolls is over. The time to prosecute trolls is here."
She believes reform in the law will change the culture around online trolling.
"You need to change the entire conversation, the entire narrative and say, 'Hey Johnny, if you're going to troll, do you care about going to jail for three years?," she said.
"'Do you care about being on the front page of the paper and your wife and your boss seeing? Do you care about you being held to account and never getting another job?
"Do you care about your kids seeing this in five years time that their dad was an asshole and bullied someone to the point where they nearly took their own lives? Do you care about that, Johnny?'"
"Yes, you do. Because then Johnny sees real consequences for his actions. Then Johnny thinks twice about sending something. Then Johnny stops."
Comments made on 2GB earlier in the year thrust Molan into the spotlight.
During an on-air conversation about player names with The Continuous Call co-hosts Darryl Brohman and Mark Levy, Molan said: "hooka looka mooka hooka fooka".
Molan's comments quickly drew widespread backlash among the NRL community with past and present players lashing her for appearing to mock Pacific Islander names.
But Molan has hit back, with it being announced this week she is suing Daily Mail Australia over a story she claims painted her as "racist" and an "arrogant white woman of privilege".
Molan says she was referencing a previous story told on the show and denied she was mocking Polynesian names.
In a statement provided to news.com.au, Daily Mail Australia will be "strenuously defending the proceedings" and will file a defence shortly in accordance with court rules.
Along with Molan, former Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold opened up on 60 Minutes on the vitriol that was directed his way.
Seibold became the target of an ugly smear campaign that saw him lodge an official complaint with police to bring charges upon the people responsible for spreading vile rumours about him.
The ugly campaign ended with Seibold stepping away from his role as the coach of the Broncos and he says it ruined his reputation.
"My situation went viral on social media, defamatory comments, my reputation was ruined in a lot of respects," he tells Steinfort.
"The very last message on social media was the one that probably upset me the most, because it spoke about my daughter."
- with James McKern
Originally published as Terrifying moment that broke Erin Molan