Bella Thorne sparked conversation after tweeting topless photographs a hacker had attempted to blackmail her with.
The 21-year-old actor and singer tweeted screenshots of messages she received from the hacker, who had attempted to use the private images to exert control over her.
By sharing these screenshots, Bella has asserted she will ‘sleep better knowing I took my power back’, with her refusal to let the hacker control her life winning her much admiration among fans.
Bella received the hacker’s messages while busy promoting her book of poetry, The Life of a Wannabe Mogul: Mental Disarray.
This should have been a thrilling and creative moment in her career, and an opportunity to show her skills as a poet. However, her happiness was blighted by cruel threats which left her in tears.
Bella shared an account of her experiences on Twitter, explaining her decision to share the photographs on her terms:
Yesterday as u all know all my sh*t was hacked. For the last 24 hours I have been threatened with my own nudes I feel gross, I feel watched, I feel someone has taken something from me that I only wanted one special person to see.
He has sent me multiple nude photos of other celebs, he won’t stop with me or them he will just keep going.
For too long I let a man take advantage of me over and over and I’m f*cking sick of it, I’m putting this out because it’s MY DECISION NOW U DON’T GET TO TAKE YET ANOTHER THING FROM ME.
I can sleep tonight better knowing I took my power back. U can’t control my life u never will.
Here’s the photos he’s been threatening me with, in other words here’s my boobies. So here f*ck u, and the last 24 hours I have been crying instead of celebrating my book while doing my book press. Oh yea, the FBI will be at your house shortly, so watch. Your. Mother. F*ckin. Back.
By taking this strikingly bold stance, Bella effectively removed the threat the blackmailer had taunted her with, using her personal story to show such malicious individuals as the cowards they are.
No doubt fans who’ve had similar experiences will have taken some comfort from Bella opening up and controlling the narrative.
Indeed, many commented on Bella’s post to commend her courage in the face of threats and intimidation. Refusing to be humiliated by what are perfectly normal private photographs, Bella has shown remarkable confidence.
One fan commented, ‘You took the power back from this piece of sh*t. That’s real strength’. Another remarked, ‘Holy sh*t, what a badass move’.
However, it’s important to remember Bella’s circumstances and formidable outreach make her situation quite different from many others influenced by blackmail. This may not be as empowering for those without Bella’s enormous platform and self-assured personality.
UNILAD spoke with Sophie Mortimer, a helpline manager at The Revenge Porn Helpline who – despite applauding Bella’s ‘bravery and confidence’ – does not recommend those being blackmailed share their intimate pictures.
Mortimer told UNILAD:
We were saddened to see that yet another person has had their private images stolen in this way and used to threaten and harass them. It is completely unacceptable for someone’s personal and private content to be abused in this way: the person who owns that content, and appears in it, is the only person who has the right to decide who sees it.
While we absolutely applaud the bravery and confidence that Bella Thorne has displayed in standing up to this abuse, this is not going to be the case for everyone. We would not recommend anybody publishing or sharing intimate images online, their own or especially anyone else’s.
The Revenge Porn Helpline was established in 2015 coinciding with newly implemented UK legislation intended to protect revenge pornography victims.
According to a 2018 evaluation report, the helpline had 4,337 contacts with clients between April 2017 and March 2018, offering individual support and advice.
They also provided practical assistance to 1,177 individual clients attempting to have online images and videos removed from websites and social media platforms.
The majority of people who contact us with similar issues do not have the desire, confidence or platform to respond in this way and have personal and professional lives that will suffer severe negative impacts if their own content is shared.
The Revenge Porn Helpline is here to support anyone in the UK who has had their intimate images shared without their consent or who is being threatened with such sharing.
If somebody has obtained or shared private images without your consent, it’s important to remember you are not on your own. There are informed people out there who can help.
Although it may well be tempting to share the pictures yourself in a show of defiance, it’s always best to seek advice and work through things in a way that will leave you feeling safe and empowered in the long term. Regaining control can be found in other ways.
If you have been victim to image based abuse and need advice and support from a Revenge Porn Helpline practitioner, you can: call, email, request a call back or send an anonymous ‘whisper’ message via a webform.
The helpline is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays. You can call 0345 6000 459 or request a callback by emailing [email protected] with a contact number and convenient time to call.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.