Alex Scott gets real about the impact online abuse has had on her mental health

Alex Scott gets real about the impact online abuse has had on her mental health

Speaking in a new interview, the broadcaster and former football player Alex Scott opened up about how the abuse she has received during her career has impacted her personally. 

Alex Scott is no stranger to success. Since she retired from international football back in 2017 with 140 England caps under her belt, the former Arsenal player has become one of the most recognisable sports presenters on TV – making history in 2018 as the first female pundit on Sky Sports Super Sunday.

But amid her success, Scott has been subjected to an onslaught of racial and misogynistic abuse on social media – the mental impact of which she has spoken openly about in a new interview with The Times.

Addressing the hate-filled messages she received after it was falsely reported that she was replacing Sue Barker as the new presenter on A Question Of Sport, Scott said she reached a point where she was “scared for my life”.   

“I was scared to leave my house to even go to the shop,” she explained. “That’s the stage that we’d got to – that, oh my gosh, someone Black might be replacing a national treasure could cause such hatred.”

For a brief period, Scott said she turned to drinking to deal with the level of abuse that was being aimed at her. She also sought therapy.

However, when she received further abuse during her coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Scott said she found herself in a ‘bad place’.  

Scott has had a successful broadcasting career since her retirement from professional football in 2017.

“I can slip into dark places. And once I slip into dark places, I don’t stop,” she said. “I loved being out at the Olympics, but afterwards I realised the mad pressure that I’d put on myself to take everything – the trolling, the racism, Lord Digby Jones.”

Scott is of course referencing the former Labour minister and ex-House of Lords member’s criticism of her pronunciation, as well as his suggestion that she attend elocution lessons. 

At the time, Scott responded to Jones’ comments by expressing her pride in her east London background – but in the interview, she revealed the impact the hurtful comments had on her mental health.  

“I went into the Olympics knowing the scrutiny that I would be under once again from all the trolls,” Scott explained. “But then to open Twitter and see that from him, I was just like: ‘I’m not going to be silent any more. I’ve had enough.’ So I just tweeted and went to bed.”

This isn’t the first time Scott has addressed the abuse she’s received online during her broadcasting career.

Speaking to Radio Times earlier this year, Scott recalled how she’d been sent tweets telling her she “should be at home ironing or cooking,” but said it was her “responsibility” to change people’s perceptions by staying on screen.  

While Scott shouldn’t have to be subjected to so much horrific abuse in the first place, it’s great to see her succeeding in the face of so much vitriol.  

Images: Getty

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