CAROLINE FLACK, ACTTRESS, SINGER, DANCER & HOST OF THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED LOVE ISLAND; RECENTLY TOOK HER OWN LIFE. WHAT WENT SO TERRIBLY WRONG AND WHAT LESSONS CAN BE LEARNED FROM THIS UNEXPECTED TARGEDY?
Caroline Flack, who was well known for hosting the much-loved ITV show ‘Love Island’, sadly passed away on 15th February 2020; just one day after Valentines day. Since her death, Caroline’s name has been a reoccurring, trending theme on social media. One question that keeps coming up is: what part, if any, did society have in her death?
People tend to think that the problems for Caroline started on 13th December 2019; when she made headlines, after being arrested for assault on her boyfriend at the time, Lewis Burton. The truth is, Caroline had long struggled with mental health problems and there was a lot more going on behind closed doors that the public did not know about.
The world was in shock after pictures were published from the world’s media, showing a blood stained front door and bedroom at Caroline’s old flat in Islington. Many people jumped to assumptions about what had happened and took the arrest and prosecution of her as evidence that she had indeed assaulted her boyfriend.
Now, just four days after her death, her family have released an unpublished Instagram post which gives Caroline’s side of the story and version of events.
For a lot of people, being arrested for common assault is an extreme way to have some sort of spiritual awakening but for me it’s become the normal.
I’ve been pressing the snooze button on many stresses in my life – for my whole life. I’ve accepted shame and toxic opinions on my life for over 10 years and yet told myself it’s all part of my job. No complaining.
The problem with brushing things under the carpet is they are still there and one day someone is going to lift that carpet up and all you are going to feel is shame and embarrassment.
On December the 12th 2019 I was arrested for common assault on my boyfriend. Within 24 hours my whole world and future was swept from under my feet and all the walls that I had taken so long to build around me collapsed. I am suddenly on a different kind of stage and everyone is watching it happen.
I have always taken responsibility for what happened that night. Even on the night. But the truth is… It was an accident.
I’ve been having some sort of emotional breakdown for a very long time.
But I am NOT a domestic abuser. We had an argument and an accident happened. An accident. The blood that someone SOLD to a newspaper was MY blood and that was something very sad and very personal.
The reason I am talking today is because my family can’t take anymore. I’ve lost my job. My home. My ability to speak. And the truth has been taken out of my hands and used as entertainment.
I can’t spend every day hidden away being told not to say or speak to anyone.
I’m so sorry to my family for what I have brought upon them and for what my friends have had to go through.
I’m not thinking about ‘how I’m going to get my career back.’ I’m thinking about how I’m going to get mine and my family’s life back.Caroline Flack - Unpublished Instagram Post
When this originally happened and the news broke of Caroline’s death, I was disappointed to hear some of the things being said by the general public. There was a lot of anger directed at the Crown Prosecution Service, Love Island, ITV, her management, the entertainment industry and the national press.
As time has gone on, my opinion has since changed somewhat. I still do not think it was wrong for the CPS to go ahead with the prosecution of Caroline. This is the main sticking point that I often found myself disagreeing with others on.
Nobody knows what happened on that night, what the CPS allege happened and what Caroline and her boyfriend alleges happened are just that, allegations. It’s important to know why we have a system in place where the CPS can prosecute someone for a suspected domestic violence related offence, even without the support or backing of the alleged victim.
Domestic violence is a prolific problem all around the world. There have been many tragic cases of domestic violence; where the victim has ended up dead through poor legislation or inaction by the police.
In the past, it was normally the case that if the CPS wanted to prosecute someone for an assault or domestic violence related offence, they would need the full support and co-operation of the victim. Authorities soon realise that this was problematic. Victims would often drop charges mid investigation; either through fear of their partner, or when their partner apologised, promised to never do it again and beg that the victim drop all the charges.
Victims would often be left in a really difficult situation; if they had children together, the victim would often feel they had to drop the charges as they may not be able to cope with childcare or finances on their own. Truth is, there were many reasons for victims dropping the charges; the point is, the law was ineffective and would often leave the authorities with their hands tied, unable to act or help a victim whose life many have been in danger.
The law was changed for a reason and it was effective. Allowing the CPS to prosecute for domestic related incidents, without the support or backing from the victim, undoubtedly saved many lives. Violent and repeat offenders found themselves behind bars for the first time, regardless of whether their victims supported the prosecution.
Now, I am by no means saying that Caroline was a perpetrator of this type of violence or that her partner was a victim. What I do stand by, is the fact that the Crown Prosecution Service made the correct decision in pressing on with the case and prosecuting. There should be no exceptions for anyone, celebrity or not.
The lessons that I feel can be learnt from this tragic case, is how the press and media report on these cases. It was very clear that Caroline was let down by society. We all jumped to conclusions about the case, we all formed our own opinions on what happened that night.
The issue lies with the press, sadly, due to Caroline being in the public eye, the press threw her to the wolves with little care about the facts or her mental and emotional well-being.
This begs the question, should the press be allowed to report on cases before a verdict is announced from the trial? After all, what happened to the old saying “innocent until proven guilty?” And, is it not a human right for a fair trial? What we’ve seen in this case is trial by media that has led to society acting as judge and jury, hounding this poor woman and as a result, someone has now lost their life.
I personally, would advocate for all alleged offenders to be given the right of anonymity in the press, at least until the end of their trial and a verdict has been reached.
There are many more failures and lessons to be learnt from Caroline’s tragic death. I don’t want to go down the road and pointing fingers at her management, ITV or any other individual or organisation. It’s a dangerous path to go down and it’s the very things I am speaking out against in this article. The truth is, we don’t know what help or support was offered. We know Caroline was taking antidepressants and we don’t know how that came to be, it may or may not be the case that another individual or organisation, did get her the help and support they thought she needed.
Suicide is tragic and it leaves the people left behind with many questions and a whole bunch of hurt and pain. It’s not unusual to start pointing fingers and trying to figure out who was responsible for this tragedy. It’s very clear in this case the press got it wrong, which led to a ripple effect that undoubtedly played a huge part in Caroline’s death. Legislation needs to change to offer protections to people who could potentially be innocent from being identified in the press, especially when that person has pre-existing mental health issues. The risk is to high to not offer those forms of protection. Again, just because Caroline was a celebrity, should not make any difference. The fair treatment should be across the board. Had Caroline not been a celebrity, the chance the media would have reported on this case would be very slim. It is often the most extreme domestic violence incidents that get reported on, with most crimes, carried out by non-celebrities, going unreported and unpublished.
Hopefully, Caroline’s death will pave the way for new legislation or guidelines on how the press deal with incidents like this; it is needed as without it, it could lead to more tragic and unnecessary loss of life.
Rickeo is a freelance journalist and computer programmer. Rickeo has an avid interest in the paranormal and all things unexplained. Rickeo regularly writes about alternative news issues, technology, cryptocurrency and the unexplained.