“Being Mary Jane” actress Gabrielle Union is speaking out.
In an open letter/essay inside the new issue of Cosmopolitan mag, Gabby reflects on how she feared that the nude pictures she had sent to her husband/Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade (and since deleted years ago) would be leaked while she was suppose to be enjoying the happiest days of her life. Just one day after she said “I Do”, rumors started to spread that she was one of the celebrity victims.
On their final night of marital bliss, she found out that her worst nightmare had came true. Before her pictures leaked, it haunted her as she and D. Wade frocklicked on the sandy beaches of Turks and Caicos. And all she could think of was how this would affect her family and friends. She wrote,
My honeymoon was plagued by thoughts of when I would get hit. It was always in the back of my mind: Will today be the day my life gets ruined? I thought about my family and everyone the scandal would affect — my mom, who teaches classes about Catholicism to kids, and the three boys I had become a stepmother to when I married Dwyane. My husband, meanwhile, would always have to wonder who had seen intimate photos of me that only he was supposed to see.After the pics leaked she sprung into action, desperately trying to have them removed. So much so, she got the FBI involved. She said,
The hit came three weeks later. I was on the final night of a beach retreat with Dwyane and the kids in Turks and Caicos. We had just given the boys a big lecture on how to protect themselves online, telling them to be careful what they post and what they say. Friends contacted me with the news: A photo of me had surfaced online. I clicked on the link and felt a flicker of relief: The picture was not very revealing — my body was covered. It was a flirtatious shot I had sent to Dwyane three years ago. I had zapped it to him and then told him to delete it right away, as he has a habit of losing phones. He deleted it, and so did I.
I knew there would be more to come. I wondered how a photo that was shot and deleted three years ago could be found. Sure enough, later that night, more pictures started popping up, one after another. All of them had been shot and deleted years ago. Yet there they were, online for the world to see. I felt extreme anxiety, a complete loss of control. I suddenly understood that deleting things means nothing. You think it's gone? It's not. What is the point of even including a delete function on a phone if it doesn't really delete? I had deleted the photos from my phone, but apparently they had remained on some server somewhere, unbeknownst to me, where hackers could find them.
I called my reps and attorneys, pleading, "Get the photos taken down." They said it takes time — the shots were spreading fast, to some 50 sites within the first few hours. Nude pictures of other celebrities were appearing in this second wave too, including Rihanna and a new round of Jennifer Lawrence shots. I thought, this is a targeted attack, a hate crime against women. Photos of my friend Meagan Good showed up as well, and that really hurt — she's like my little sister. We had become close while filming Deliver Us From Eva. She's married to a pastor. I wanted to protect her from the inevitable character assassination. She was the target of a crime and did not deserve to be attacked.
I felt an urgent need to speak out — I didn't see silence as an option, and my inner circle supported me. I started working on a statement the night my photos surfaced. I've been a longtime advocate for women and girls, and a few years ago, President Obama named me to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. I didn't like the public perception of this scandal — that we were just a bunch of narcissistic, sexually deviant celebrities who got what we deserved for being dumb. No one deserves to have a private moment stolen, whether it's a photo, text, or email. Everyone has intimate parts of their life they don't want the public to see.
My lawyers started sending "cease and desist" letters to sites that were running the stolen photos. Legal bills began rolling in. Every time the lawyers managed to remove photos from one site, the shots popped up on another. People simply take screen grabs and pass them around. It's an insane battle. I also started working with the authorities to try to find the culprits. We still don't know how more than 100 women were hacked in this crime. There are a lot of theories. But I do know that you should change your passwords often, make them complex and varied, and sign up for two-step verification on your accounts.
She then struggled with being seen in public after being embarrassed that her intimate photos, which were strictly for her husband, had made their way around the world via the Internet. To her surprise, fans supported her during one of her most trying times.
The next morning, I didn't want to leave my hotel room. I just wanted to hide. I had a wave of fear, thinking everyone had seen me naked. Then I thought, wait a minute, to hide is to act like a guilty person. I hadn't done anything wrong. I went downstairs with my family and had breakfast. I ate some amazing bacon. I braced myself for battle.But here’s how she’s handling it now:
We packed up for our trip home, and I prepared myself for crude remarks and rude glances. I had to fly through Miami on my way to Los Angeles for work. What I found surprised me. People in the Miami airport know me since I live in the city, and they said things like "Stay strong, girl!" In LA, the photographers were waiting, but not to attack: They actually high-fived me. "We're on Team Gab," they said. They said the hacking was wrong. When the paparazzi tell you something is bad, you know it's really bad. Dwyane and I also had to explain the scandal to the boys, two of whom are in their teens. We told them the photos were private pictures between the two of us, photos we had deleted, and that criminals had found them anyway.
Here's the way I choose to look at it: Bad things happen to people every day. It's what we do with them that counts. If someone betrays your trust, such as a former boyfriend who posts photos of you online, you might feel like you're alone on an island. You're not. Talk to people who care for you. Just keep going. Whatever your dreams were before, they still remain. You might feel like nothing will ever be the same. And that's true — nothing will be the same. Take that and change things.