Playing for Keeps star Olympia Valance has posted on Instagram about the psychological impact of being a victim of phone hacking, after intimate pictures of her were circulated online without her consent. In her powerful statement, she wrote that the act of taking private photographs is not shameful — but that hacking and distributing such images is.
She explained that she has been dealing with this "abusive" cyber crime for over a year, but new images had been recently published. She wrote that their distribution was "retraumatising", "pushing my anxiety into a space it has never been".
Olympia described her hope that she might be able to start a broader conversation about the sharing of intimate photographs without consent, and the psychological impact that violation has on victims. "I have had days where I have been exhausted and where the depths of my sadness have scared both myself and the people I love. I want to be at peace. I am tired of trying to fight."
The actress has fought to keep the images from being made public, adding that hacking and leaking such images is an attempt to "humiliate, degrade, control and blackmail a person". But, she noted, despite the assistance of her lawyers, management team and the police, she's not been able to stop the photos from being leaked. "So, now I want to take some control back and use my voice for good. For positive change."
Olympia stressed that the act of taking private photos "for yourself, or to share with a partner" is "not shameful". "Stealing them and sharing them online without consent is. We should be allowed to embrace our sexuality without fear that someone will take those images and manipulate them for their own gain."
Her message to people in possession of the images was to know that they had been hacked and stolen from her phone, then published without consent. "If you actively search for these photos, shame on you. If you've actively shared these photos amongst your mates, shame on you," she wrote.
"Imagine the level of profound violation if this happened to your daughter, your sister, or to you. I am a public figure, but I am also a human being. I am not immune to these scandals. I hurt and I certainly feel pain."
She credited the support of her boyfriend, AFL player, Thomas Bellchambers, her family, friends, lawyers, management, psychologists and the staff of the police's Image Cyber Crime division. Without their support, she says she "would not have coped". "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for lifting me up when I was at my weakest."
Olympia declared herself as one of them women from across the world standing up against patriarchal oppression at this time. "We are strong, resistant and powerful women," she said.
"I'm not ashamed. I'm not embarrassed. I will not apologise. I have done nothing wrong."
Hacking and then leaking someone's private photographs is a violation — so too is revenge porn, when someone publishes a former partner's intimate pictures online without consent.
In 2014, hackers accessed Hollywood celebrities' iCloud storage accounts and leaked their intimate photographs, including those of Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Kate Upton. Five men have been convicted and jailed for those crimes.
We hope that Olympia does get justice, and that people take on board the message in her statement — that women shouldn't be ashamed of taking or sharing nudes and embracing our sexualities. If someone abuses the trust therein through revenge porn, or publishes illegally obtained intimate photographs, it is not the fault of the person who took those photographs.
One more time for the people in the back: "I'm not ashamed. I'm not embarrassed. I will not apologise. I have done nothing wrong."