Leading Irish fashion designer 'worn down' by abusive messages online

Much of the abuse stems from post she puts up trying to help those who suffer with eating disorders and have been raped.
Leading Irish fashion designer 'worn down' by abusive messages online

Sarah Slater

An award winning Irish fashion designer has revealed that after two years she is “worn down” by abusive texts despite trying to help those who suffer with eating disorders and have been raped.

Sarah Murphy, a renowned designer who has dressed numerous high profile Irish celebrities such as TV presenter Angela Scanlon and vegan food blogger and cookbook author Holly White, has spoken openly about being raped which led to a lengthy battle with an eating disorder.

One of the Instagram messages said: “Stupid f*cing b**ch. Just another lil slut who changed her mind. Bet you loved it...rape please?! Give you something to moan about and shut you up.”

Taking to her official Instagram account, the fashion designer who lives in Co Wicklow said she has seriously thought about leaving the normally user-friendly social media app but that “would feel like letting them win to me” but that she will become quieter on the platform.

She posted: “After just over two years of receiving offensive, abusive and sometimes threatening messages I'm worn down. While I truly believe that if you put yourself out there and voice an opinion publicly then you should be able to stand over that opinion.

“You should be able to defend it from a position of knowledge based in understanding, truth and facts. You should not run and hide from criticism. But there is a difference between criticism that challenges your point of view and straight up abuse.”

She added: “I have thought of leaving Instagram, but I have quite a stubborn streak in me and that would feel like letting them win to me. Instead, I'm going to be maybe a little quieter and probably stop talking about certain topics that seem to provoke such hateful messages. Sure the only person who will miss them is the person sending me these.”

Taken off-line

Ms Murphy surmised that perhaps she will exclusively post photos of her dog instead. “I mean he's really cute and my phone is full of pictures of him anyway. Surely no one can take offence with that?!”

The abuse has been reported to Instagram and a number of the accounts involved have been taken off-line.

Many well known in the industry were quick to rush to offer help including model Sarah McGovern who said: “Oh my god I’m in shock people would say such horrendous things.. I’m so sorry you have to suffer this, but they are the ones with all the issues not you.Keep doing what your doing, You’re amazing.”

The eating disorder awareness advocate patient liaison ambassador is involved with the National Eating Disorder Clinical Team and St Vincent’s Hospital Group in holding a bi-monthly support group meetings.

According to the Health Service Executive’s (HSE), model of care an estimated 188,895 people in Ireland will experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives while approximately 1,757 new cases occur here annually in the 10-49 age group.

Currently, there are three specialist beds based in St Vincent’s Hospital for those based in the south of the county and Wicklow to treat adults with eating disorders - the same number 14 years ago.

There are no other such allocated hospital beds nationally. Eating disorder patients are treated in general hospitals or in a psychiatric setting according to the HSE.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help

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