Emily Atack’s mother Kate broke down in tears as she read the ‘vile’ sexual messages male fans have sent her daughter.
In her new BBC documentary Emily Atack: Asking for It?, the comedian, 32, visited her mother’s home in Bedfordshire to discuss her campaign against social media abuse – which has left her feeling ‘ashamed and embarrassed’.
While sitting in the garden with her parents Kate and Keith, who divorced when she was a teenager, the Inbetweeners star shared screenshots of the some of the worst Instagram messages she’s received from men.
The show exposes how one obsessed fan – known only by the username ‘Daddy Dave’ – sends Emily hundreds of messages on Instagram everyday, telling her that he pleasures himself while looking at her pictures as his wife and children sleep.
Meanwhile, the star says she wakes up to numerous unsolicited pictures of fans’ penises on social media each morning and will often be asked to send them nude selfies in return.
Emily’s mother Kate Robbins – who starred in Crossroads and Spitting Image in the 1980s – said she has refused to look at the messages in the past because she worried fans would physically harm her daughter.
Although the messages aren’t shown on screen, Keith looks uncomfortable as he scans them and tells Kate: ‘It’s basically what men – in a graphic way – want to do to her. Of course it’s disgusting.’
After being handed Emily’s phone, Kate says: ‘Look I can’t even read that […] It’s disgusting. Oh my god, see I can’t bring myself to read it. It’s disgusting, it really upsets me.’
Emily’s mother Kate had to leave the garden after the messages made her break down in tears. She later said she ‘wasn’t expecting them to be so vile’
Emily and Kate pictured in the living room of Kate’s Bedfordshire home. The mother said the messages made her feel as though her daughter had been ‘violated’
As her mother fights back tears, Emily tells her parents that she’s become ‘numb’ to the online harassment – which she’s been experiencing since the age of 18.
Expressing sympathy for her daughter, Kate said: ‘The psychological effect of [those messages] constantly going to you everyday Emily…
‘I appreciate that you don’t tell me about it all the time because I would be a wreck. I would be a wreck.’
Fighting back tears, Kate then says she doesn’t want to talk about it anymore and goes inside the house. She tearfully shouts back: ‘I’ll just be a minute.’
In her documentary, which airs tomorrow, Emily delves into the online sexual harassment she’s been experiencing since the age of 16
Emily says she wakes up to dozens of sexually explicit messages from male fans on an everyday basis
While Emily tells her father that she feels like it’s ‘her fault’, Kate calls out from the kitchen: ‘I find it very upsetting, to be honest. I don’t want to look anymore.’
Speaking to camera later, an emotional Kate says: ‘I just worry for her safety. I have never known anything like what Emily showed me in those messages.
‘I don’t want her to be subject to that and I want to protect her as a parent but she’s an adult now and I probably can’t protect her anymore.
‘It’s deeply upsetting and I can’t even talk about it too much because I get too upset to be honest.’
But despite her mother’s reaction, Emily says she still wanted to persevere and have these uncomfortable conversations.
She told her father: ‘This is all part of the problem of how awful it is because I feel shame and embarrassment [over] all these messages and mum’s reaction makes me think, ‘is that because that’s what she thinks about me?’
Emily with her father Keith Atack. The star has previously said that her ‘whole world collapsed’ following her parents’ separation
Emily says speaking to a group of schoolgirls stirred up emotions about what she went through as a teenager
‘I know that’s not true but my brain goes there and it’s horrible.’
Elsewhere in the one-hour special, which airs tomorrow, Emily also revealed she had her first sexual experience at the age of 12 with a boy six years older than her.
After meeting with a group of schoolgirls who are also experiencing online sexual harassment, Emily returns to her mother’s home later in the programme to discuss her reaction to the messages.
Kate confessed: ‘I didn’t expect it to be so vile. I felt my daughter had been violated and I couldn’t protect you. It was twofold.’
Although Emily admitted she felt ‘sick to her stomach’ for upsetting her mother, the star said she’d been wanting to speak to Kate about the cyberflashing and her early sexual experiences for a long time.
Emily told her mother: ‘I need someone to sit there and say, “this is not your fault that these things happened.”
Kate replied: ‘Are you talking about all the things that have happened to you in your life sexually that shouldn’t have happened?’
Yes,’ the star said. ‘I’m really damaged by a lot of it. Really damaged. And I know you’ve struggled to talk about it but it’s important.’
As Emily fought back tears over the ‘uncomfortable’ topic, her mother said: ‘It’s not your fault. I’m just so sorry that [you’ve felt] as though everything has been your fault and it’s obviously not. I was just trying to do things to protect you as a mum.’
Emily says the online harassment began when she bagged a starring role in The Inbetweeners in 2008
In an interview with The Times in December 2020, Emily explained how her ‘whole world collapsed’ when her parents Kate Robbins and Keith Atack separated after 19 years together in 2006.
The actress admitted she was taken out of high school because she was subjected to bullying, and later became ‘depressed’ before moving in with her older sister Martha.
She said: ‘I pulled away from Mum, started hanging out with lads and smoking and drinking. I stopped listening and did what I wanted, and by the time I was 14 I was seeing this much older lad.’
Emily confessed she ‘latched on’ to her boyfriend after her father left their family home, and was ‘pushed around’ by a group of girls who ‘terrorised’ her for two years over her relationship.
However, Emily has never specified if this boyfriend was the one who she had a sexual experience with at the age of 12.
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