Since declaring her interest in running for Lismore Council, local woman Sally Flannery has been subjected to sustained attacks, both online and upon her property.
On social media Ms Flannery said, ‘Our community is such a beautiful one, we call our town “Lovemore” and are known to champion diversity and inclusion – yet there is a cloud of toxicity that goes unaddressed. Many see it as “keyboard warriors” but it is so much more than that and it’s time to call it out really publicly.
‘I’m a passionate 27 year old woman and member of the community and I want to run for council in the upcoming election. (As should be my democratic right). I knew that putting myself in the public eye would mean opening myself up to criticism and public comment, of course.
‘Public debate is a part of a healthy democracy, but what I experienced crossed a line and sadly it’s not an isolated experience,’ she said.
Sally Flannery says her employer was called and she was threatened ‘to either not run for council or to run with a certain person and told that those were my only options otherwise I would face public humiliation and degradation for the next six months.’
Ms Flannery has named two Lismore men associated with the abuse that has followed.
Not just a virtual attack
Within 24 hours of the initial threat, Sally Flannery said her glass front door was smashed and a locked mailbox ripped off the wall and stolen.
‘I can’t say that these two things are related and I have no proof, but it’s a shame this toxicity exists,’ she said. ‘I shouldn’t even have to second guess this, and be wondering if it was more than just a random crime.’
Ms Flannery says the worst thing is realising that the culture of intimidation and fear in the Lismore community goes way beyond her personal experience, with many other people (mostly women) since coming forward with similar stories.
‘It’s at the hands of a few people – and it’s time to say enough,’ she said. ‘We say we want a better council, and there have been several women in council forums and workshops promoting women becoming involved – yet how can we expect them to do so when they’re literally being threatened against running?’
Sally Flannery is urging others who have been threatened to speak out publicly, until the bullying and intimidation stops, both online and in real life. Recent revelations show that many people in local councils and at other levels of government have faced similar gendered abuse.
Ms Flannery says the police and NSW Electoral Commission are both involved and are investigating her case.
Find out more and join the conversation via The Echo and FB: Sally Flannery for Lismore.