The voicemail that made AFL and Reality TV collide into a bullying storm

Warning: listener discretion is advised (offensive language)

Alright, you’ve listened to the voicemail. If you haven’t, give the play button a click above. Again, warning to little ears around or if you’re offended by swearing.

Now, let me provide you with the context behind this expletive voicemail. By the way, does the ‘C’ word give you as much ick as it does me?

The backstory

My husband Bryce and I awoke one morning to a missed call at 3am about a week out from the AFL grand final.

Bryce played the voicemail on loudspeaker. While short and non-physically threatening, it’s disgusting behaviour, nonetheless. 

Naturally, I fly into a gentle rage; that’s what I call it when I’m steaming with anger; but I have sleeping children in the next room, so I must keep my own expletives down to the decibel of a mouse squeak. 

Why am I so angry and offended you may question? The call wasn’t directed at me. 

These people in power, with influence, an audience or following, need to set an example against bullying. Not pick and choose when to dish it out and to who deserves it.

Honestly, I am so sick of the same people STILL being plain nasty about a period of time from a television show from years ago.

Also, that is my husband the call was directed at. The father of my children.

My person. 

I will always protect my family. If you attack my husband or my children – you are attacking me, and I take it personally. If being on reality TV taught me anything, it made me stand up for myself.

My love

Back to the mystery of the nameless, faceless caller.

Being a 3am voicemail, they may have had one too many bevvies and were drunk dialling, which most of us have done, am I right?

Here’s the kicker… And my friends, this is a rookie mistake.

If you’re going to call, put your phone number on private. 

Being the millennial who hasn’t gone a day without a mobile phone beside her bed, I did the first natural thing – I googled their number. 

Low and behold, the number popped up immediately on an AFL related website.

I found this person’s name, work email and business name. They worked right here in Melbourne. 

I googled their name, and saw their photos, but was surprised at this person’s status. 

This individual appears to be one of the directors of a prestigious AFL player management company and a player-manager to several big Australian football stars.  

They were once a footy player themselves.

Highly respected within the AFL community and seems like a great role model and supporter of all things AFL. 

They also have beef with my husband. Or do they? 

Why is a person of this calibre and this industry calling Bryce?

I know Bryce is obsessed with all things sports, but there’s no way this individual would be calling while having a beer alone, let alone have Bryce’s number. 

We put it down to a former reality TV contestant or a particular radio announcer. With a handful of names, we were able to track them down quickly. 

It wasn’t too difficult to work out when you plaster your antics online.

It was a former MAFS contestant and their own Instagram stories that were their undoing.

The MAFS contestant featured stories of themselves with this particular AFL identity the night of the voicemail while at an event in Melbourne.

Naturally, we made sure to get screen recordings and I will allegedly say that the MAFS contestant gave my husband’s mobile number to the AFL player director that night.

Adult bullying

So, what is the point of this post if I have not named names?

Well, for one, I don’t want a lawsuit. Not that I have done or said anything wrong or untrue. I just don’t need the threats and honestly, we deal with enough lawyers.

My frustration with this continued behaviour isn’t about not being able to deal with this pettiness or that I expect everyone to be perfect and can’t make mistakes.

I make mistakes and errors in judgment all the time, so does Bryce (I still need to tap him on the shoulder occasionally and say, ‘think!’). You may consider writing this post an error in my judgment. However, it is more to stop and think.

I want to raise my children in a world where people can make mistakes and if they do, apologise, rectify if necessary and then move on. 

I am sick and tired of having to deal with this annoying schoolyard bullshit. We are adults. You don’t like us? Fine, you don’t have to.

Calling people names like ‘Deformed’ (oh yeah, I’ve had that said about me many times) or using names that play on people’s physical insecurities, like ‘Gonzo’. This is deliberate and hurtful bullying behaviour, you don’t know the damage you’re doing. So cut it out! Maybe watch the below TED talk.

TED talk – Adult Bullying

Cancel culture

Bryce and I have fared our storms of cancel culture. We’ve been cancelled since the day we met by many.

I am not trying to ‘cancel’ either of these people.

Simply, I want to set the example that if you don’t like someone, you don’t have to play with them.

No, no, that’s not right. That’s something I would teach my kids when they’re older. How should I word it for grown adults who bully other grown adults?

If you don’t like someone, don’t talk about them? Yeah, that should suffice. 

If you really can’t stand a person, why are they even on your mind? Why does their name come out of your mouth? If I don’t like someone, I simply don’t talk about them and/or walk away from the conversation. That way, I can’t say anything that I may be sorry for later. 

Cancel culture has become excessive and dangerous. Death threats, people coming to your home, abusing you in the street, and people who may make a reasonable mistake or error in judgment, not unlike this phone call, should have the opportunity to rectify or learn from it.

Or – just don’t do it again. 

I could talk about this all day long.

But here is where I will take the sensible advice: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” 

Image: Pinterest

Have you been bullied as an adult? Do you have any advice to add or coping mechanisms? 

Leave a comment below or head over to our Facebook page and share your thoughts and suggestions. 

30 thoughts on “The voicemail that made AFL and Reality TV collide into a bullying storm

  1. Siobhan

    So is this that fella who was with the unbearable Rebecca? He was an AFL player wasn’t he? I’m just catching up on your season of MAFS now and felt that Bryce was targeted constantly and that the rest of the couples pretended to care about your feelings but were actually full of glee at every new rumour. Awful people for the most part. I was so happy to find out you guys are still together and have a beautiful family. xxx

    1. Melissa Rawson

      Hi Siobhan, thank you so much for your message. Actually the person in this audio is an AFL player Manager who looks after very well known footy players here in Melbourne.
      Everyone did something wrong on the show, at least we’ve all grown and come out on the other side with a beautiful family, humble lifestyle and lovely family, friends and followers xxx

  2. Lynda

    I was called Gonzo growing up, and people use to call my name then duck when I turned around, tell me my nose walked into the room minutes before the rest of me did, and it gave me my fair share of image issues. As an adult with 3 children (2 of which are now adults themselves) we had many conversations around this type of behaviour and its ability to make people want to harm themselves or others.

    Calling out behaviour like that is important but some times is difficult.

    I hope my children can continue the lessons I’ve taught them with their kids and hopefully in generations to come, this type of behaviour will naturally die!!

    We can all live in hope x

  3. Kathryn Stothard

    That is so horrible Liss. I have followed you and Bryce since MAFS and felt you guys were given a very poor edit. I am so glad that you have survived the bullying from that show and you make a beautiful couple. Your boys are absolutely adorable!

    I absolutely detest the ‘c’ word it is so ugly. Bullying unfortunately happens everywhere, and they always find something to bully against, which is so sad.

    So sorry that people have nothing better to do than try and find a way to bully you both. I had someone say to me once that bullying happens because people are jealous. Well get off their backside and build their own life, instead of finding ways to pick on other people.

    Love watching your stories on instagram and am so glad I have found this site!

  4. Astrid Vorstenbosch

    This is terrible and irisponsible behavior. People should think about getting hurt this way themselves before opening their mouth. And behaving like spoild brats. I have watched the show in Holland and was disgusted how you 2 were treated. I said to my husband all along they are so strong they will be the ones who make it. I am so glad you proved me right. Love your two boys and am glad you are togeather.
    People be kind to each other, to much war and hate in this world and its much easier to love.

  5. Bruna Barnett

    What disgusting behaviour and i have followed you and Bryce since your series of MAFS and so many people and other couples were against the two of you and you have proved them wrong and you have stayed together and now married with two of the most gorgeous twin boys and you are both real and true and don’t deserve any of this bullying. You aren’t perfect and nobody out there is perfect (including myself) and both of you keep doing you and don’t ever change.

    1. Liss

      You are so right, Bruna! No one is perfect, people make mistakes but continuous targeting and harassment is extremely frustrating and upsetting.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and share xxx

  6. Laura

    This is disgusting behaviour. I never watch MAFS but have seen the provocative advertising that happens every year and realise how they twist stories to sell a show.
    I see you around our little town all the time and Liss I can assure you that you are beautiful and gentle and keep to yourself.
    You and Bryce are a lovely couple and your boys are so sweet.
    I hope and pray you both get an apology for this middle of the night phone call but realise that someone who would do that probably thinks it’s above them to apologise. I am sorry you have to live like this at times.

    1. Liss

      Oh thank you Laura! Please feel free to come up and say hello (unless you have and I can’t remember because of the years of baby brain!)
      I’m not expecting anything but a little awareness, more so from the Director of this large AFL business with impressionable young up-and-coming AFL stars. Also, if he and his partner have a child/children, I hope that don’t feel this is acceptable behaviour, regardless of your intoxication levels.
      Thank you for reading xxxxx

  7. Mandy Oldham

    This is so sad to read. I follow you since watching MAFS and love seeing your beautiful children especially the recent video of them
    riding around on their trikes. Keep your chins up!! Follower from the UK, Mandy x

  8. Nicola

    This behavior is disgusting and your hubs 10000000000 percent did the right thing. You and your husband are living proof that ppl have no clue.. thank you for calling it outxxx x

  9. Anonymous

    This is just horrible!
    Pretty poor behaviour on behalf of this individual who has a high position in the AFL field.
    Hope you get to the bottom of this!

    1. H

      This behaviour from any ‘adult’ is disgusting!

      I was always brought up here in the UK with the saying “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all” and it’s something I have also also taught my own children along with just ‘be kind’ as you never know what someone else is going through.

      Would be nice if the mums in the playground could take some notes on this subject lol I’ve had a little grief because I am friends with someone they don’t like (no idea why and I don’t really care, people like that aren’t worth having as aquaintences anyway), get a grip we’re in our 30s, not kids!

      Fair play to you for sharing your story, these people need to be called out on their behaviour, as a child would if they were bullying in the playground!

      We can’t all like everybody we come across in life, just wish people could keep their opinions to themselves and move on. I feel press and social media have to take some of the responsibility for a lot of these kinds of issues nowadays, not enough is done about keyboard warriors and a lot of people unfortunately think they can say what they want to who they want.

      Hope you and your family are well.

      Regards xx

      1. Liss

        This is all so true, H, thank you. I am sorry to hear about you and your friend having a hard time. We weren’t all built to be friends with everyone but we have to respect what good others see in people. I’m friends with people who are also good friends with people I really don’t like, and they’re allowed to be!
        I hope you are well also and thank you for posting and reading xx

  10. Maree Anne

    I am so very sorry to read that you have been called “deformed “. Unfortunately i work in the Health Care System where there is ageism & bullying still. Despite all staff having to do a Anti Bullying & Harassment Module.
    If a person is different they are a target. Something that is never discussed is the fact that fair/pale skin people are discriminated against. If a person is not tan, your not cool.
    I definitely am not cool, i am fair skin & i have a skin graft on my face from a Basal Cell Carinoma.
    If only people could just be kind to each other.
    I look forward to reading more of your blog posts♡

  11. Trace

    Wow really?!?! People really need to get over themselves. You would think after all this time people would have moved on. Sorry you guys are still going through this

    1. Liss

      Hey Trace, thank you for sharing <3 You're so right, the show was three years ago. We're in our mid-thirties. If you don't like someone, don't talk about them or contact them! Easy as opening a bottle of wine with a screw top! x

  12. Les oneill

    Many Football players think they are above everyone else. Most wouldn’t survive in real working envirement, that’s why they get into training or the media. Overpaid for to long ,think they are heros.

    1. Liss

      Thanks Les! Look, I’m sure they regret this split-second decision and all can be forgiven. But this person is in a position of power and we all take responsibility for our split-second mistakes, make amends and move on. But first, accountability is required.

    1. Liss

      Hi Bex, thank you for taking the time to comment! Honestly, we’re use to it. But I am over it and when it comes to bullying, I want to set a better example for my children and call out this behaviour.

      1. Bex

        You are doing an amazing job getting the word out there, you should be so very proud!
        I have been bullied in my last two jobs by management. It has really affected me and made me question who I am as a person. I’m almost 50 and have never experienced this behaviour in all my life until the past 5 years.

        1. Liss

          I am so so sorry to hear that Bex. I recently had a run in with a person in high places and it wasn’t pleasant. Off to HR I go!
          Hope you are doing okay x


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