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Little Women's Florence Pugh, 24, forced to defend romance with Zach Braff, 45, after going public on Instagram

The couple have been dating for a year

Andrea Caamano

Little Women's Florence Pugh has been forced to defend her relationship with 45-year-old Zach Braff after being inundated with abuse from trolls after sharing a birthday tribute to the actor on her Instagram page. The 24-year-old actress, who has been dating the star for a year, released a video on Wednesday explaining why she had been forced to turn off the comments on her page for the first time in her life and why the abuse and "toxic vibe" had to stop.

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WATCH: Florence defends her relationship with Zach and their 21-year age gap

The star explained: "On Monday I posted a photo in honour of Zach's birthday, and I wrote a birthday message for him. Within about eight minutes of the photo being posted I had about 70 people in the comments hurling abuse and being horrid, and basically bullying someone on my page.

"It is the first time in my entire Instagram life that I've had to turn off the comments on my page, I have never been an Instagram page that encourages that, I have never been an Instagram page that likes that toxic vibe. I have only been an Instagram page that tries to bring some light and tries to be positive, and tries to make people smile."

Hitting out at the trolls who had flooded her comments, she continued: "I will not allow that behaviour on my page, I'm not about that. It makes me upset, it makes me sad that during this time when we really all need to be together, we need to be supporting one another. We need to be loving one another, the world is aching and the world is dying and a few of you have decided to bully for no reason."

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Florence shared this birthday tribute to boyfriend Zach

The actress, who was nominated for an Oscar at this year's awards for her role in Little Women, spoke about her and Zach's 20-year age difference, saying: "I'm 24 years old, I have been working since I was 17 years old, I have been earning money since I was 17 years old, I became an adult when I was 18 years old and I started paying taxes when I was 18 years old, I underline this fact, I am 24 years old.

"I do not need you to tell me who I should and should not love, and I would never in my life ever tell anyone who they can and cannot love.

"It is not your place, and really it has nothing to do with you, so if those rules are something that you do not like then please unfollow me because the abuse you throw at him is abuse you're throwing at me and I don't want those followers, and I don't want to have to be protecting my comments every time I post a picture of him."

She later ended the three-minute video by saying: "So, here's to you guys, and I hope that we can keep on being positive, and to those who do not agree with anything that I have just said I kindly ask that you unfollow me because that is not my page. Be safe, try and be positive during all of this, and I'll see you soon."

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