Yumi Stynes: “I was literally silenced”

In a new doco Yumi Stynes reflects on the "sh*tstorm" that followed her comments on The Circle in 2012.

Presenter Yumi Stynes has revealed that during the darkest days of public criticism following comments on The Circle, she turned to alcohol and even felt like taking her own life.

Stynes was subjected to abuse, death threats and found herself unemployed after comments around Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith on 10’s The Circle in 2012.

Reflecting on the incidents in a new ABC series Just Between Us, she explained how she went from being photographed as ‘powerful’ for a Green Guide cover, to being hounded by media and outcast.

“Within three weeks, I reckon of that cover coming out, it all fell apart. So I have these jobs where I have to talk: radio shows, TV shows, writing a column, lots and lots of words. Among those literally 1000s of words that I said every week. I said something about an army guy. And I didn’t realise that slagging off an army guy is like, slagging off Jesus Christ… the Anzacs. In this country it is a no-go zone.”

In February 2012 Stynes of Roberts-Smith, “He’s going to dive down to the bottom of the pool to see if his brain is there,” while George Negus questioned whether Roberts-Smith was “up to it in the sack.” Both later issued an apology.

Sponsors soon quit the show and 10 swung the axe by August that year.

“The thing is I didn’t even slag him off,” Stynes continued. “I just said, ‘he’s not my type’ because I don’t really go for those men. Within minutes of saying that on Live TV, people started to call up the TV channel and complain. They started to call up radio talkback guys, to dob me in. So the shock jocks got in and started to stir up their listeners against me. Their listeners had never heard of me. They’ve never watched my show, but they were angry and motivated enough to ring up my station and complain, write letters and turn it into a huge, huge shit storm ….months of people ringing the TV channel that I worked for… emailing my bosses, going on the Facebook page to threaten to kill me and hurt me, sexually assault me, violently rape me. It just did not stop. It was so unrelenting. My TV show did get axed. I didn’t get renewed for my radio contract. My job at Foxtel evaporated.

“So I went from being on the cover of the paper to having literally no work. It was really hard to deal with. There were times during that phase where I actually thought I would be better off to die. I had nothing to contribute. Months and months of feeling, in your head … why did this happen? Why am I completely unemployed? I was literally silenced.

“So in that time I am I drank a lot. I felt awful. I’d quit drinking a couple of times before. And for the first time the thing I did differently this time was I told people. And that was confronting.”

Stynes details more of her recovery from alcohol and her joy at being a mother on Just Between Us, 9:25pm tonight on ABC.

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