Kiara Laeticia is used to being in the public eye.
As a former vocalist in the band Skylark, performing in front of thousands of screaming metal fans was a walk in the park for the 38-year-old rock star, real name Kiara Laetitia.
But, as a recent victim of a phone hack which leaked private pornographic video materials onto the internet, Kiara tells UNILAD she has never felt more exposed.
Speaking exclusively to UNILAD about the hack, she said:
I didn’t go out of the house for two days. It was shocking. I don’t even know when it happened or how.
Some fans just started to reach out to me in private chats like Facebook Messenger or Direct Message on Instagram to let me know that there was a video of me all over the internet.
Once I saw the video, I changed all my passwords and increased my overall security and now everything is super secure, but I guess it was too late.
The hackers, who have yet to be caught, published a number of private videos Kiara filmed with her partner, alongside some private photographs containing pornographic material.
Describing the emotional fallout, Kiara said:
They were meant to be private and for ourselves only. At first I felt shame. I literally felt like the world was spinning and I had no control.
I really don’t like being out of control. I hadn’t had panic attacks in years and I started having them again. I think it had to do with the shame issue and lack of control.
Professor Clare McGlynn told UNILAD cases like this are ‘part of a broader phenomenon where women – and it’s mostly women – are subjected to forms of sexual abuse and harassment involving the taking and sharing of private sexual images without their permission’.
Prof McGlynn, an expert of Law at Durham University dedicated to the legal regulation of pornography, revenge pornography and sexual violence, has argued cases like Kiara’s should be considered forms of ‘image-based sexual abuse’.
Terrifyingly, this type of abuse is becoming more and more pervasive:
Dr McGlynn reasons:
These forms of abuse are experienced as sexual assaults by women – sexual images are taken of them without their consent.
They are often posted on the internet and the abuse and harassment as a result is sexualised.
They often end up on porn sites where it’s then very difficult to get them taken down.
Kiara said the classification resonates with her experience, adding:
‘Image-based sexual assault’ is an interesting classification and point of debate for sure. When I think about sexual assault I think about something non-consensual, otherwise it’s simply sexual intercourse.
In my case, the diffusion of my videos and pics was not consensual so I can definitely relate and I guess it applies to me in some shape and form.
Kiara now, like so many victims, faces the exhausting task of reporting each instance of the material being published online and getting the footage removed from the World Wide Web.
It’s been published to numerous well-known ‘celebrity sex tape’ sites and the video has been sickeningly emblazoned with the hashtag, ‘The Fappening‘.
It’s a phrase with which many are familiar – and many women live in fear of – since it was coined after a number of celebrities’ iCloud accounts were hacked in order to access and publish private photographs.
Kiara is now among the reams of victims in the public eye, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Kayley Cuoco.
Since, Misha Barton has also been victimised by this type of hack.
Kiara told UNILAD:
I believe it’s important we talk about this. I mean, I’m not ashamed about the video per se.
After all it portrays something that about 90 per cent of the population does, but it’s the invasion of privacy that bothers me and the fact it was something meant to be private.
This could happen to anyone. I never thought it could happen to me.
Kiara is pursuing legal action in her home country of Italy with the appropriate authorities, and adds, ‘as for finding the hacker, it’s still kind of early to tell’ if they will be caught.
While the damage is done and justice needs to be served, Kiara is still managing to find the positive in what is an otherwise horrifying situation.
The London resident told UNILAD about the reams of ‘messages from supporting fans who felt indignation for the invasion of privacy’ she had to suffer.
I started to see the good out of this situation: love and support. I had honestly thought my followers would have started to call me names, being judgmental and so on, but it was completely the opposite!
Maybe I was the one placing the judgement on myself? I receive so much love and support from people I haven’t even met.
Kiara explained she was surprised to receive support and solidarity from men and women alike, adding the experience has taught her to let go of her misconceptions.
What I mean is, I think it’s probably ‘normal’ for a female to relate more on something like this and feel solidarity towards another female who had such an invasion of privacy, but I honestly didn’t expect the same sensitivity from men.
I was wrong. We expect all women to be sensitive, all men not to be sensitive and so forth. I guess placing a label on something or someone is never the right thing to do.
Kiara says the support which ‘came out of this invasion of privacy has so much lessened the pain and anger’ she felt at the hands of the perpetrators.
She concluded, ‘at the risk of sounding cheesy’, saying her story ‘is proof that eventually good wins over evil and love can fight hate’.
Let’s hope the criminal justice system follows suit and acknowledges image-based sexual assault as a serious and damaging crime.
If you’ve been affected by image-based sexual assault, you can call The Revenge Porn Helpline on 0345 6000 459.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.