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Emily Atack had Instagram account suspended for calling out horrific sexual harassment

Emily Atack had Instagram account suspended for calling out horrific sexual harassment

"I have at least one rape threat a day."

Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault that some readers may find upsetting.

Since she first appeared as Charlotte Hinchcliffe on The Inbetweeners, Emily Atack has been bombarded with sexually explicit messages online - though she was much younger when she started getting unwanted attention from men.

It started, she says, when she was about 12 years old and had her first sexual experience with an 18-year-old boy.

"What I’ve been told in therapy over the years is that I found a way of coping with it and that was by opening myself up to boys and men from a really early age," she says in her upcoming BBC documentary Asking For It?

Emily has done the work and learned to heal herself from the trauma of that experience, but nothing has been able to shield her from the hundreds of sexually abusive and often threatening messages she is still being sent on a daily basis.

This documentary won't be the first time Emily has spoken out about the non-consensual messages she receives online.

Fans would sometimes see the former Celebrity Juice star take screenshots of the most ridiculous DMs she was getting (often accompanied by a d**k pic) and post them to her Instagram Story, calling on men to try and be a little bit less repulsive.

“I think that what I tend to do with everything is throw humour at it," she told LADbible.

“It was a cry for help, really, I was trying to show people what I was experiencing without saying, ‘Please, can someone help me, I'm struggling'. So I put it out there. Because I feel like people respond well to humour."

But over the years, the messages in Emily's DMs have gotten darker, seedier, and more violent.

Emily Atack's new documentary Asking For It? airs on Tuesday, 31 January.

“I mean, I have at least one rape threat day," she said, matter-of-factly.

"Most of the time it's, you know, wanking videos, pictures, men explaining how they would like to do things to me sexually. But there's also people talking about rape and murdering me. It's pretty bad.

"I haven't been threatened to be killed in about a week, so that’s progress."

Emily sounds a little bit jaded when she speaks about the nauseating messages piling up in her inbox, but when the alternative is living in paralysing fear that one of the men behind these messages might find out where she lives and genuinely hurt her, jaded seems like a better alternative.

“There's a guy on Twitter at the moment - this isn't even in my Instagram DMs in private, he's put this on Twitter," she says.

"But he is sending me videos constantly and talking about rape.

"This man was explaining to me how he was going to rape and kill me and explained in detail what he was going to do with my body after he'd killed me."

Emily goes into further detail about this man's messages, some involving her family.

"You know, all that kind of stuff. All the classic stuff."

The comedian and actor is sent hundreds of non-consensual sexually explicit messages every day.

"This was openly on Twitter that he was saying this," she adds.

When Emily took to Instagram to confide in her followers about the spine-chilling messages, she was met with a suspension from the app.

"My account was suspended for a couple of days because I put the content up," she explained.

"It just seems that when it comes to women's rights, women's safety, and violence against women, it's put to the back of the pile."

She went on: "People kind of go, you know, ‘there are worse things going on in the world’. And I go, ‘Yeah. But there are women still being raped and killed in broad daylight. So actually, our safety shouldn't be up for debate'.

"Sarah Everard’s family would probably argue that, actually, there aren't worse things going on this is potentially could be the worst possible thing in the whole world if it's not acted upon."

Emily is shining a light on the unacceptable sexual harassment she, and other women, are facing.
WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

When approached for a comment, a spokesperson for Instagram told LADbible: "No-one should have to face the type of harassment Emily has experienced, and we don’t want it on Instagram.

"We’ve worked with women’s safety experts to develop strict rules against gender-based hate, sexualised or misogynistic language, and threats of sexual violence, and we take action whenever we become aware of it.

"We’ve also built tools to help prevent women from having to deal with abuse in the first place, like the ability to turn off messages from anyone you don’t know, and filter abusive messages and comments so you never have to see them.

"There will always be people who try to abuse others, but we’re continuing to work on new ways to help women feel safe and in control on our apps."

They added: "In 2021 there were a few instances where content Emily shared was removed by mistake, but this content was restored as soon as we became aware, and there are no current restrictions on her account. We absolutely allow people to share this kind of content in the context of highlighting and condemning abuse – and we encourage people to let us know if they think we’ve made a mistake by appealing the decision in-app."

Because of the nature of some of Emily's Instagram posts, or the cheeky, suggestive jokes she sometimes throws into her stand-up, the actor is often dismissed when she shines a light on the abuse she's getting.

Now, Emily is putting herself up for ridicule once more with her highly anticipated BBC documentary Asking For It?, where she'll examine the level of harassment she receives and try to understand why the blame for unwanted sexual attention is so often put on the victim.

"I'm f***ing nervous about bringing the doc out," she admits.

"But I just I hope if you know if it just stops one man in his tracks for sending a dick pic to a girl - potentially a 10 year old girl and potentially unravelling, changing her life forever - then it's done something.”

Emily Atack: Asking For It? airs January 31 at 9pm on BBC Two.

If you would like specialist sexual violence support or information, you can find specialist services in your area here. You can also contact The Survivors Trust helpline team to get more information about the different types of support available.

Featured Image Credit: Stills Press / Alamy BBC

Topics: Emily Atack, Celebrity, TV and Film, BBC