Exclusive: ‘I’m still terrified that this person is going to come to my flat and hurt me,’ says actor
Actor Susan Wokoma says she is “terrified” and has “barely slept” after her home address was posted on Instagram, saying police refused to help her.
She was surprised by the lack of help from the Metropolitan Police because she had also been the target of racist and abusive message from a user who threatened to beat up her sister.
Ms Wokoma, who lives in London, said: “My address was posted publicly on Instagram on Saturday. I have no idea who he is. I burst into tears. I was terrified. I have just bought this place. I’ve worked really hard. I’m working class. I can’t pack up and leave.
“This area is where my family live and where my roots are. I had days of being scared, crying in tears, scared to leave the flat. I had to go to a hotel for the first two nights. I’ve barely slept.
“I’m still terrified that this person is going to come to my flat and hurt me or they are going to send something. I can’t stop that. If someone wants to harm you, they are going to harm you.”
Ms Wokoma said police told her that so-called ‘doxxing’ — publishing someone’s address or location without their consent — was not illegal, but a lawyer has advised her that it is a breach of GDPR laws.
The police attitude demonstrates “systemic” issues with police not doing enough to tackle violence against women and girls, she said.
“The officer said what would consist of a crime is if they were to turn up at your address and harm you and then at that point I should call 999.
“They said there is no crime. The case is done. It has to have happened before you can report, but normally when you report it, you have already had your nose broken, or you are dead or have been raped. It is too late.”
Her comments come after the death of Sarah Everard triggered an outpouring of anger as women shared their own personal experiences of harassment and abuse.
The government has faced fierce criticism for not doing enough to tackle violence against women in the wake of her death, while the Met Police was at the centre of a storm after manhandling women attending a vigil at Clapham Common.
A woman is killed by a current or previous partner every four days in England and Wales, while a recent survey by UN Women found that 97 per cent of young women in the UK said they had been sexually harassed and 80 per cent reported experiencing sexual harassment in public spaces.
Ms Wokoma added: “Do I feel like I’m an archetypal victim who the police feel they need to protect and is vulnerable? No, I don’t, and that is partly because of my race.
“I don’t want to have to use my fear for change, I want to live my life and do my job in safety. I’m an actor, not a social justice warrior but because of my race and gender, I’m automatically that.”
Taimoor Tarafdar, a criminal defence lawyer, told The Independent sharing someone’s address publicly online is not a criminal offence if it is an “isolated act”.
The lawyer, who works at ABV Solicitors, added: “It depends on the context and how the information came about appearing online.
“If it is the result of someone who has harassed them previously, then it would be illegal and constitute harassment or stalking. As long as the action causes alarm and distress, it can be deemed as harassment or stalking behaviour under legislation.”
Ms Wokoma, who has over 47 thousand followers on Instagram, said she decided to leave Twitter last summer after being subjected to vile abuse on the social media site.
She said she and two other cast members from Amazon show Truth Seekers went to the police in December after suffering racist abuse on social media – adding that an anonymous account had branded her a “rape-able monkey”.
A Met Police spokesperson commented on a series of incidents Ms Wokoma has reported to the police, saying: “The Met takes claims of online harassment and abuse very seriously and will investigate where appropriate.
“In this instance, officers investigated each incident thoroughly and took appropriate actions to resolve the issues. In the final report, it was found that no offences had been committed. If further information comes to light the Met will assess and deal with this appropriately.
“We would always encourage victims of crime to come forward, all allegations will be taken seriously.”