Strictly Come Dancing star Shirley Ballas says she’s scared to leave her own home after receiving death threats and ‘pictures of coffins’ from online trolls: ‘It has changed my life’
The professional dancer has resumed her judging role on the long-running BBC show after it returned with its twenty first series on September 23.
But sinister social media messages aimed at Ballas, 63 – many of them threatening or sexual in nature – have prompted concern for her safety and left her fearing that people are “lurking in dark corners or hiding behind walls”.
Appearing on new show Olivia Attwood vs The Trolls, she said: ‘I’ve had people draw coffins with me in it with somebody with a spade that said, “Die you b**ch”.
‘It’s when it is personal about myself and my family and it affects my mental health. I am not just talking about your phone.’
Concern: Shirley Ballas says vile death threats have left her scared to leave her own home – little more than a fortnight after her return to Strictly Come Dancing
There she is: The professional dancer has resumed her judging role on the long-running BBC show after it returned with its twenty first series on September 23
She added: ‘I am talking about being in public. You worry about those same strange people that write these kinds of messages.
‘Are they lurking in dark corners? Are they hiding behind walls when you go somewhere?’
Ballas admits she is always on high alert as a result of the messages – but also harbours a degree of sympathy for those responsible.
‘Sometimes at night, I lie there and wonder, Are they suffering? Are they lonely? Is it funny to them?’ she said.
‘This whole experience has made me much more vigilant. I cannot say that I leave my front door unless I am on point. I never relax. It has changed my life completely I would say.’
In August, Ballas recalled how she was forced to seek counselling after receiving a torrent of vile abuse during the last series of Strictly Come Dancing.
Though she has returned to the 2023 series, she previously told how she even toyed with the idea of not coming back.
Speaking to OK! magazine, she explained: ‘I’ve had down and dark days throughout my whole life but I’ve always had music and I’ve always had dancing. And of course I’ve got my mother and we’re glued at the hip.
Worry: Sinister social media messages aimed at Ballas have prompted concern for her safety and left her fearing that people are “lurking in dark corners or hiding behind walls”
‘What it [the trolling] did to me on the last series, I wouldn’t want that for anyone.’
The star has been undergoing counselling for over two decades.
Explaining her attitude towards it, she said: ‘I’m not embarrassed to say that now, although I was in the past as I thought people might think I was weak.
‘But you know what? Sometimes counselling is just about having someone there to listen. So there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help.’
Speaking in an interview with The Times, the star opened up about the sorts of cruel messages she received, with some users even accusing her of being racist.
She explained it was comments like ‘Just, how ugly you are and how fat you are, and how you’ve got horrible arms, and, ”You don’t like men. You don’t like women. You don’t like black men. You don’t like black women”.’
Ballas revealed that the racist accusations especially were the hardest to deal with and although she might seem tough on the TV it’s just a facade.
‘That’s a front,’ she said. ‘Something I’ve learnt from my mother. ”Don’t whine. Get on with it”.’