Writing has never been this hard. It usually comes easy to me, but I’m overwhelmed, frozen. By this time, if you have an Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account (and you follow handball players), you may have already read the hashtag #sharingisNOTcaring in hundreds of posts. And if you didn’t pay attention to it, you may not know what it refers to. Long story short, Nora Mørk’s phone was hacked by a man in his twenties, who spread photos from her private archive on the internet. He committed a crime. One that has seriously damaged the 26-year-old Norwegian right back. And that’s why, two months after finding that out, she’s taking action.
“When the squad for the World Championship was announced, I was scared and I just wanted to go far away. I got scared. I’m afraid to be in Bergen for the Möbelringen Cup for a week and be in contact with other people. I was actually thinking to buy an airplane ticket and to travel to the other side of the world for Christmas. But I realized that if I do so the person who did this will win. And I need to take back the control over my life. On the other hand, handball is my life, I love playing for Norway, I wish to represent my country and I can’t let anyone take it away from me.”
Those were some of the phrases Mørk pronounced in an interview with Norwegian channel TV2 on Monday, when she made the decision to make public the nightmare that’s been haunting her for the last couple of months. Since then, the outpouring of love and sympathy from teammates from both the national team and her club Győri Audi ETO KC, players from all over Europe and fans worldwide, was replicated mainly on Instagram under the motto: #sharingisNOTcaring.
“Never have I ever played a tougher battle. A personal struggle of self-esteem, anger, disappointment, panic and frustration. Now I know I’m not alone in this. Thank you very much to all who have supported me and helped me out, and a special thanks to Lene, Gro and Tone”, thanked Mørk herself on a post late Monday.
Tone is Wilhelmsen Trøen, chairwoman of the Family and Culture Committee, and Lene is Vågslid, chairwoman of the Justice Committee; two who are guiding the Norwegian player to take the case to the Justice, where she expects the responsibles for the felony to be convicted. Along with them is Mørk’s former Larvik HK and national team teammate Gro Hammerseng-Edin.
“My life has changed a lot. I have gone from having a good time to know that self-esteem has disappeared. Every day has been tiresome. It’s tough to stand in it. I do not think people understand what they’re doing with a person”, stressed the 2 time EHF Champions League champion to TV2.
I could go on quoting the painful statements from the left handed, like when she mentions the fact that she felt physically ill, she had trouble sleeping, eating, performing on the handball court and that she even considered dropping out of the upcoming World Championship in Germany next December. But that’s not the point now. The damage has been done and I couldn’t even think what it would be like to be in her shoes right now. To know that you haven’t done anything wrong, but still, you’re the one who’s being judged by some. To know you’ve been stolen, to know this is one of the things that are out of reach for you to stop. It’s hard to picture the 167cm woman who broke all barriers becoming one of the world’s best in a sport that, until quite recently, was a field of giants, being overcome by an incomprehensibly unfair situation. She who did not let the numerous injuries spoil her career. She who fought to breakthrough among the sport’s titans to sit at the elite, who persevered to be crowned the World’s best (a title that is yet to come and one for which she will continue to strive).
But then again, she did not break into the world scene due to her talent and hard work alone. A great deal of determination and mental strength are a must to get to the top. And those same characteristics have driven Nora Mørk to take action and to fight to take back control of her life. She’s determined. And what could’ve been a dropout from Germany 2017 will now serve as fuel. She wants to perform well. She feels she needs to regain her status of role model. Little does she know that this new fight has only made her a new kind of role model.
But our focus should shift. From her, to the real problem. That’s when #sharingisNOTcaring takes the scene. It’s not just a slogan. It’s a statement. Something we should not take lightly. One of the reasons why a superstar like Mørk chose to speak was to help others, who are going through the same, to find the strength to fight back. Against ignorance, against recklessness, against shamelessness, against impunity. The fact that she’s a public figure could encourage others to speak and seek justice, and that’s just way too big. It takes enormous guts to step up for oneself and for others, a lot of self respect and love. In the midst of such pain and sorrow, the Norwegian’s acts only make her greater than she is on the handball court.
And because her actions are worthy of such praise, we should not be less than that. While tons of messages of support must have flooded her inbox on the last 72 hours, our actions are the ones that count. I have browsed through the several posts with the aforementioned hashtag, and I was not surprised when I noticed the great majority were posts from women. And I don’t think we should relate this to the fact that she’s a female athlete. Mørk herself expressed (according to the sometimes inaccurate Google Translate) that men do not quite understand the severity of the situation in the same way as women do. Is it lack of empathy? I bet a whole lot of people questioned why she took the photos in the first place, instead of realizing the seriousness of the fact that she was stolen, that her privacy was violated. Why is it that we try to find a way to blame the victim? Would it have been different if the victim was a he and not a she? (but let’s not forget men are also victims of these misdemeanors). As Gro Hammerseng-Edin wrote on her Instagram post: “What does it say about you as a human being when you help to spread the pictures? What kind of society do you want to be a part of?”
As of now, and as reflected on TV2’s website, 15 men were reported to the police by Nora’s twin sister and Larvik’s left wing, Thea, as responsible for sharing the photos. This has only begun, and I can only ask for justice to be exemplifying, ruthless. So that those who cannot yet measure the severity of the facts get a reality check of what is like to play with someone else’s life and privacy. Be the one who stands up against theft and exposure of private property. Your 5-minute ‘entertainment’ could be messing with someone’s confidence for a lifetime. Those scars are hard to cure and not everyone is ready to fight that battle.
As for Nora, you remain a role model, don’t let them get to you. Your courage is inspirational, you’ll win this fight; and we’ll all be cheering for you when the whistle blows.