When it comes to this troubled young woman, my journalist instinct is missing.

Little Girl Lost

13:58:PM 24/02/2011
Virginia Trioli

A dilemma. A journalist’s dilemma. I should want to interview the angry and vengeful 17-year-old girl at the heart of the St Kilda football club and now Ricky Nixon scandals. I read the stories that explode around her as she wreaks her revenge on men she believes tricked her, took advantage of her, betrayed her. I follow the consequences, examine the fall-out.

But when it comes to this troubled young woman, my journalist instinct is missing. I don’t want to get her on air, or sit her down with a camera, tape or pen. In fact I never want to hear from her again. I want someone, anyone who cares about this girl, to take her to one side, wrap her up in their arms and pull her out of the limelight, off Twitter and into safety; to tell her, “enough now” and take her away from the celebrity that right now must feel like the only kind of love she can expect. I want someone to take care of her, and it seems that no one can or will, so I want to do it myself.

I won’t presume too much about her life, but I have read the comments of parents that seem to suggest despair and abandonment of a wayward girl. She seems to spend a great deal of time alone. She shifts from hotel to hotel.

But I follow the girl I’ll call K on Twitter, and I daily read, with a sinking heart, the arc of her outrage; the plummet to earth of fear and regret; the need to be loved; the astonishing abuse she cops; the loneliness of her life. My hands hover over the keyboard as I think, “send the message, send it now … ask her to meet you … buy her a coffee … and tell her to run away from this mess and never look back”.

The real story for me has not been the “woman scorned” one, even though the young woman’s tenacious fury has been something to behold. The real issue is about the questionable judgment of some men in the football world, the alliances they feel they can make, the stuff they can get away with, and the ever-sympathetic audience they know they can fall back on when their self-indulgent choices turn into mistakes: there are more men and women lined up to call this girl a “moll” and a “skank” than there are people who call footballers or Ricky Nixon idiots. I’m glad she’s done what she has. I’m glad she’s used the full force of the technology at her disposal to reveal the hypocrisies of the football world. But she’s climbed onto the back of a lion, and I don’t know how she’s going to get off.

In the conclusion of my book Generation F, a response to Helen Garner’s First Stone and the Ormond College affair, I wrote that if a friend of mine came to me with a story of sexual harassment, I probably wouldn’t encourage her to go through the pain and trauma of the public and legal process: let someone else take on the men, I would want to take my friend away to quietly heal. But, I said, “If my friend was strong enough to confront the pain of this process, then who among us could deny her right to do just that?”

This recklessly brave and angry girl is that someone else. I stand in awe of her fury. But enough now; shush now. Someone help her down off stage. Someone help her take care of herself.


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