Online Sexual Harassment: Liv Humby Speaks Out

TW: sexual harassment. 

Influencer Liv Humby creates content for women. Her Instagram is a space that aims to “empower and uplift”. Through showing her own ‘imperfect’ (by society’s standards) body, her aim online has always been to “reflect real women.”

“I do this because I wish my 13-year-old self had seen that,” she tells GLAMOUR UK. “I have the most incredible community of women as my audience who are here to raise each other up. To me it’s the same vibe as you’d get on my girls Whatsapp group, it’s like i’m chatting to my friends everyday.”

The problem is, for all its positives, and for all the women Liv’s content helps, there is a dark side to this inclusive, upbeat corner of the internet, one that became glaringly obvious to Liv after watching Emily Atack’s BBC documentary, Asking For It?

“I felt really overwhelmed with emotions and quite teary watching the documentary, because it made me see messages and comments for what they are, sexual harassment,” she explains. “I think before the documentary I’d always brushed them off as part of the job, but the documentary made me understand this is not ok. 

“I’d have no tolerance for this abuse on the streets so the online world should be no different,” she adds. 

Liv cannot control who sees her content online and her popularity means that she often ends up on the app’s ‘for you page’ (fyp) where male users are more likely to find her images and videos. “I get explicit messages and comments from men telling what they’d like to do to me sexually, or what they are doing to themselves when they watch me,” she says. “I also get asked to do sex work and they point out my flaws, pull my body apart for it’s ‘best and worst’ features, telling me only if I changed X then i’d be Y for them, and the worst part is probably the images they send because they can’t be unseen and leave an imprint on your mind.”

In the documentary, Emily shares her own, shocking story of online abuse and discusses the urgent need for the Online Safety Bill – which includes protections against cyberflashing and deepfakes and is on its way through parliament in a bid to change the murky laws around the way perpetrators can be prosecuted for digital crimes – to help protect people, and especially women and girls on the internet. And after watching, Liv decided to create a post of a different kind to do her own bit in raising awareness of this systemic issue that plagues many female content creators. 

The post, made up of a series of images and text, reads: “It’s been an emotional week to be online. This week Emily Atack shared in a documentary on the BBC the constant harassment she gets online. In a bid to change the law of the Online Safety Act… When I watched the docu in made  me realise that the daily comments and DMs I receive are, in fact, sexual harassment. I should be able to exist online, with a body, that also features in my content.