Emily Atack broke down on Tuesday while admitting she feels sexually assaulted ‘100 times a day’ as a consequence of the crude messages she receives on social media.
The actress explores the alarming rise in online sexual harassment for new BBC2 documentary Emily Atack: Asking For It after experiencing repeated daily abuse across her Instagram and TikTok accounts.
Appearing on Tuesday’s edition of This Morning, an emotional Atack, 33, said she has become as ‘easy target’ for online predators because she’s single with an unwarranted reputation for ‘sleeping with lots of men.
Emotional: Emily Atack broke down on Tuesday while admitting she feels sexually assaulted ‘100 times a day’ as a consequence of the crude messages she receives on social media
She said: ‘I am just trying to live my life as a free woman without being harassed… when you get messages like that you feel so alone and isolated, its this spiral of self doubt and shame and doubt.’
Atack, who found fame in teen sitcom The Inbetweeners, said one of her regular online abusers is a married father who frequently creates fake accounts in order to send her sexually explicit messages.
‘He says that he tucks his children into bed and then comes alone to abuse me,’ she told hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield.
Nightmare: Appearing on Tuesday’s edition of This Morning, an emotional Atack revealed one of her abusers repeatedly bombard her with inappropriate messages
Devastated: The actress was comforted by host Holly Willoughby as she discussed the alarming rise in online sexual harassment aimed at women
‘Then, well, sometimes he asks if I’ll get involved with him and his wife. Then he says: “I want to do it behind my wife’s back while my children are asleep.”
‘He calls himself “daddy Dave” to me and constantly says the word “daddy”, which is really psychologically horrible.’
While the actress is keen to track down the offenders, many of whom conceal their true identities, she remains cautious about the prospect of destroying someone’s family.
She said: ‘I’m terrified of exposing someone and ruining their life… I feel like I’m on a crusade with it now, I won’t change the way I dress or delete my accounts.
‘You can be a sex worker or a nun and it happens. I’ve learned this isn’t about you, it’s about them and their quest for power. For women and girls, our safety shouldn’t be up for debate. These problems aren’t being listened to enough.’
Stepping out: The actress was seen arriving at BBC studios for Women’s Hour during her promotional campaign for new show Emily Atack: Asking For It
For a good cause: Atack is campaigning for tougher laws concerning harassment as a result of the impact it has on her and her family’s mental health
Abuse: Atack checks her social media messages in a still from her new BBC2 show
The actress says she has approached Instagram and TikTok for assistance in closing down some of the offending accounts, but has been met with a wall of silence.
Blundering social media moderators also shut down her account on one occasion after she ‘violated’ house rules by reposting a vile message in an attempt to shame its sender.
She recalled: ‘There was a message that was so upsetting to me, I put it up and my account was actually suspended for a couple of days because I reposted the photograph.’
False impression: She claimed some male followers wrongly assume she is ‘up for it’ based on her Instagram content, despite having never met the actress
Working hard: The actress previously discussed the issue during an appearance on Monday morning’s BBC Breakfast
Atack previously explained her motivation for campaigning for tougher laws concerning harassment and the impact it has on her and her family’s mental health.
She told Monday’s BBC Breakfast: ‘We were in lockdown, everyone feeling really isolated and my whole life I had noticed the behaviour that men throw towards me.
‘But I really noticed a surge in sexually violent threats being sent to me on social media.
‘And it was getting worse and worse and I used humour as a way to cope with it and put it out there to say is this normal?’
‘I screenshotted the stuff and I just wanted to see the reaction. It was fascinating to see how huge this problem is.’
Sought out: Atack says she has become as ‘easy target’ for online predators because she’s single with an unwarranted reputation for ‘sleeping with lots of men
Harrowing: Atack reads sexualised messages sent from complete strangers in a clip from her new show, which airs on Tuesday evening
Speaking about the vile things she’s been sent, she said: ‘I’ve had things sadly that have happened to me in person too.
‘The reason why I say this online abuse is as bad as in the street, is the feeling I get when I’m sent something stirs up the same feelings the same as if it happened in the street.
‘When someone sends me a message like that, I can delete it but that message has already gone in, I have to go about my day seeing that.
‘People are asking me to wave a blind eye by blocking and deleting. All these behaviours can escalate and become way worse.’
Atack went on to talk about how she was trying to change the laws around online sexual harassment.
She said: ‘When I started the process I was looking at the law, I did a talk in Parliament about the mental impact.
‘Looking at the law, tweaking it, would feel a little bit more comforting to know they were taking it seriously.’
She added: ‘I still question myself, when I came on a minute ago I was making sure my cleavage wasn’t out too much. We don’t want to give off a vibe we’re flaunting our bodies.
‘I speak about my sex life in my shows, I’m very sexually liberated but this sort of behaviour I’ve learnt into, because from a young age its been projected onto me. It’s a coping mechanism. We’re absolutely not asking for it.’
Emily Atack: Asking For It airs on Tuesday at 9:00PM on BBC2.