Chloe Madeley has spoken out about the horrifying rape threats she received on Twitter as part of a backlash against comments her mother Judy Finnigan made about footballer and convicted rapist Ched Evans earlier this week.
Writing in the Mail, the 27-year-old said she felt violated by the "lewd, disturbing" messages from an anonymous troll, who targeted her in wake of a scandal caused by remarks that Judy made on ITV’s Loose Women.
"This week I was confronted by a man who said he was going to rape me. He didn’t leap out, knife in hand, from a dark alleyway to issue the chilling threat. He didn’t sidle up to me in a nightclub or a pub and whisper it in my ear," Chloe writes.
"Instead, he cowered anonymously behind his computer screen and sent me the vile threat through Twitter, the social media forum used by more than 270million people around the world. In what should be a safe and private space his words were a shocking violation.
‘Judy’s given me her blessing to rape you,’ he wrote. ‘Naturally, I have to acquire a paper bag first.’ He continued: ‘It’s not to suffocate you with or to hide one’s identity, it’s to cover up your rat-like face with the humongous nose.’
"Insulting, threatening, violent – the words horrified me."
Chloe's father Richard Madeley has already approached the police over the threats and warned that "prosecution awaits" for whomever had targeted his daughter.
The threats came as Judy inflamed a debate about whether convicted rapist and former Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans should be given his job back earlier this week after being released from jail.
Evans, 25, was jailed in 2012 for five years for raping a 19-year-old woman at a hotel in Rhyl, north Wales, and is due for release soon. A petition asking that he is not allowed to return to his job at Sheffield United has gathered over 140,000 signatures.
Speaking about the issue on Loose Women, Judy said:
“He’s served his time. The rape – and I am not, please, by any means minimising any kind of rape – but the rape was not violent. He didn’t cause any bodily harm to the person.
“It was unpleasant, in a hotel room, I believe, and she was – she had far too much to drink. And you know, that is reprehensible, but he has been convicted and he has served his time.”
Her comments ignited a Twitter storm and she later apologised, saying: "I absolutely wasn’t suggesting that rape was anything other than a horrendous crime and, as I said on the programme, I was in no way attempting to minimise the terrible ordeal that any woman suffers as a result."
Ched's girlfriend Natasha Massey has since spoken out to maintain his innocence in the whole affair, despite his conviction.
In her piece, Chloe recalled her mother's horror when she discovered the threats being made against her on social media.
"When I told my mother, the TV presenter Judy Finnigan, she was even more upset and unsettled," she writes. "As I read out the rape threat tweets, her face fell. I may be 27, but I’m still her little girl, and she was appalled at the vicious brutality of total strangers toward me.
"And she is right to be so concerned. For that such threats can be made so openly, so easily, so publicly, to a young woman is extremely chilling. And extremely cowardly. The threats are also ironic, given that they came in response to comments my mother made regarding ‘non-violent rape’ on the ITV programme Loose Women – comments which angered people precisely because they were seen as downplaying rape."
Chloe went onto defend her mother's point of view, saying:
"Twitter users took to their computers and phones in their thousands to express their outrage, after my mum was reported as suggesting the offence by former Sheffield United player Ched Evans was less serious because it was non-violent and the victim was drunk. This was actually just her stating the facts of the case."
Chloe, who works as a gym instructor and nutritionist, also talked about the trolling she receives on an ongoing basis on Twitter, as a result of having parents in the public eye.
She said the fact that these often include "catty remarks about my weight and clothes" meant she suspected the perpetrators were women.
"The trolls make disgusting remarks about the way my family looks, the way we talk," she says. "Some have even suggested we are incestuous. I’ve been called ‘fat’ and ‘disgusting’. I’ve been told that I look ‘deformed’ and like ‘half man, half-horse’.
"All the trolls use male names, and many of the remarks are misogynistic. Yet I instinctively feel, thanks to the language they use and their comments about my appearance – such as catty remarks about my weight and clothes – that they are, in fact, female. I will probably never know the truth, thanks to the cloak of anonymity that Twitter lovingly wraps around them."
Photos: Rex Features