A message from our founder, Dr. Holly Jacobs

My name is Holly Jacobs.  Back in 2009 my ex-boyfriend did the unthinkable after I broke up with him.  

He started posting explicit pictures and a video of me all over the Internet along with my full name, email address, job title, and specific details of where I worked and how far along I was in my PhD program.  For 3 years damage control was a full-time job. I hired a lawyer to send him a letter. I begged and pleaded with 3 different police stations to file charges against him. I went to the FBI, and I hired an Internet specialist to help me take down the material.  Ultimately, those avenues were dead ends and I needed a new approach.

So I started a website...

Through EndRevengePorn.org I’m not only gathering signatures to petition to criminalize this sort of behavior (coined ‘revenge porn’), but I’m using it as a platform to help other victims and lead what some are calling a ‘cyber civil rights’ movement.

But starting a website wasn’t enough.  I was operating the site as ‘Sarah’, a pseudonymous character.  Though I was starting to get signatures from other victims, their friends, and their family members, the bulk of society was still continuing to blame the victims and call my campaign and website a “waste of time and energy”. They just weren’t getting it; they weren’t seeing how devastating something like this could be to every aspect of your life.  More importantly, they weren’t seeing the posters as the malicious, sexual predators that they truly are.

At this point I was living three separate lives.  In one life, I was Holl(i/y), an Industrial/Organizational Psychology PhD student who was too afraid to spell her first name or give out her new last name for fear of having to explain why she was forced to change it. In another, I was Holly Jacobs, a revenge porn victim on the run from her poster, desperately fighting to get her case picked up by lawyers and police. Finally, I was ‘Sarah’, the pseudonymous figure behind End Revenge Porn, trying to change the laws and help other victims.  It was time to start merging the three identities into one. Keeping up with who I was to whom was too much to juggle on top of everything else.

After continuing to be shamed, silenced, stripped of monetary funds, and turned away, I realized that the ultimate solution to all of my problems was to do the opposite of what my ex expected me to do: expose my situation. It was risky, terrifying, and I had several people closest to me who were very vocal about their lack of support for this course of action.  Despite all of these deterrents, I couldn’t imagine hiding for the rest of my life when the real one that should be shamed into captivity is the person who tried to destroy my life with the click of a mouse. Additionally, I had seen how accepting the public was of trail-blazing revenge porn victims like Hollie Toups and Marianna Taschinger.  To this day, going public about my experience has been the best decision of my life.

Speaking up has not only helped other revenge porn victims realize that they are not alone, but it has helped me heal in so many ways.  Telling my story over and over again has given me the chance to really process and come to terms with it.  Tears no longer flood my eyes when I tell perfect strangers that some of my most intimate moments are up on the Internet for the entire world to see.  My teeth no longer chatter when I tell family and friends that my name is now Holly Jacobs, because I was cyber stalked and harassed to such a degree that felt I had no other choice but to legally change my name. I no longer have three different identities; afraid that each time I play one character, people will find out about the other.  Today, I am finally one person: Holly Jacobs, the survivor, the activist, the advocate, and the Founder and Executive Director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, whose first campaign is to end revenge porn and aid the victims of it.


Showing 8 reactions

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  • commented 2013-12-02 11:35:25 -0500
    Holly,
    thank you for doing something that i have just began thinking of. i am currently in a situation where my ex threatens & blackmails me with the photos he has of me to do what he wants or he will post them. in california they have just passed the law as criminal, but when i have tried to report him the police do not find it a big issue. the sad part about all of this is that people fail to realize that were not perfect and when in love we all do foolish things thinking that we can trust our partner. i fully support what you are doing. do people realize that since all information is public and that we can’t carry weapons to protect ourselves from real predators that lives are in danger? we didn’t take pictures for the world, but for the person we were in love with. We are not asking for bad things to happen to us, the person who is posting it is. revenge posting is the same as bullying period there is NO difference in it. i think the punishment should be harsh. its almost like saying “sure commit fraud or a crime and we will let you go cause there is no harm in it”. our society is so messed up and peoples views are so corrupted, but if they were in the same situation or a loved one of there’s how would they feel then? does anyone think before they speak now and days? it is so hard to fathom the thought that some people even take their own lives just to get out of the harsh reality of judgement that people throw out like candy, yet i bet there own lives is not rainbow and sunshine and the shock of it all is when people call out the constitutional rights they have! its like a child getting into trouble and seeing no wrong in what they did and start accusing another person of their own crimes. because their heart was broken or because we refused to take a phone call knowing that it would just be a fight anyways. i think that the people who commit these revenge postings might even need medical help. whatever the case revenge posting is wrong.
  • commented 2013-11-27 21:21:36 -0500
    holly, I fully support your actions and know personally the need for rewriting the law to make posting CRIMINAL. I want to go public also but I recognize the need to get the right people to listen, the people who can help us change the law. for those who have been through this, there are TWO stages of this “revenge porn”- the first is dealing with the humiliation of the first revealing exposure and the second is the dealing with the repeat exposures after you have worked so hard to take down material. the material gets picked up and recycled/ reposted by other sociopaths. these perverts make it their career to dig up whatever they can find on the internet about you, compile it into stories or collages and then repost the new material to continue to harass you, your friends, your family and your coworkers. It is a disgusting abuse and form of terrorism that I cannot believe hard working, honest, and good citizens of the United States of America have to be subjected to. This is NOT PORNOGRAPHY, this is FULL, OUTRIGHT CRIMINAL DEMORALIZATION, DEFAMATION and HARASSMENT THAT IS CAUSING SEVERE DAMAGE NOT ONLY TO VICTIMS BUT TO SOCIETY IN GENERAL through economic losses/ damage and desensitization of morality. it is time for change: time to make it criminal for those who post and repost this material and time to demand changes in internet practices by social media and other websites. these sites CAN and SHOULD BE MADE TO take responsibility for the material that is posted to protect society and potential victims by implementing technology that will allow differentiation of those who VOLUNTARILY WISH TO POST THEIR MATERIAL vs. those who post material of victims who did NOT GIVE CONSENT. FREEDOM OF SPEECH CAN BE PROTECTED WITHOUT TAKING AWAY AN INDIVIDUALS CIVIL LIBERTIES; THE RIGHT TO PURSUE HEALTH AND HAPPINESS AND TO LIVE IN SAFETY WITHOUT FEAR. its time Holly and I support you and will help you in anyway possible- Marie Gunn
  • commented 2013-11-21 14:49:22 -0500
    Support this initiative! In our technologically advanced world, bullying has become easier to inflict while penalties are harder to enforce. This abuse dubbed “revenge porn” is the worst kind of bullying. Someone you once trusted in an intimate way now exposes you to hurt you, and the repercussions – besides basic embarrassment – can be immense. It’s time to change the laws.
  • commented 2013-11-21 04:20:49 -0500
    Hi Holly. Thank you for starting this website and setting a precedent for the law to go after these Sociopaths. They are not normal, and this behavior isn’t normal. I have experienced this revenge-porn on a smaller scale than you and am working to fight it. I will advocate on behalf of a tougher bill- so that in the future these guys don’t even THINK they can get away with this. Woman power! I wish you the best. -Marissa
  • commented 2013-11-20 06:58:07 -0500
    Work to add this form of abuse to the sex offender public regestry, it is an effective though weak attempt at domination. Do not be shamed by an act of self expression, the shame lies with the offender. The discomfort felt is our tendency to be tentative about the unknown, own it ! Your true community will sympathize an support you fully.
  • commented 2013-11-16 22:14:55 -0500
    thanks so much, Holly! You are my hero.
  • commented 2013-10-31 23:31:58 -0400
    As survior of sexual abuse I am very proud you share your story & help others who was in sexual assault/abuse situation. I just saw the news about your story & that breaks my heart what your ex did.
  • commented 2013-10-14 22:34:16 -0400
    What happened to you is very similar to what happened to me in 2007.
    I divorced my ex of 25 yrs in 2005.It just ended in 2012.Some background…I have taught at the same public middle school for 31 yrs. In 2007, my ex put a sex video on the web. I know because I had students make references to it through the past years.A 23 yr.old wants a relationship w/ me. I can’t tell you how devastated, dirty, stalked and depressed I felt. My reputation is so important as an educator. My ex does not work but sits at his computer 18 hrs a day(not kidding) I could not find the posting nor could the police when I went there and we looked for it.I intend to prosecute w/ the new law in CA. as soon as I can find it, but the damage is done, the long term damage is yet to be seen. Why? It is a cruel,abusive act fully intended to harm.My ex had planned to do this for years before the divorce to humiliate me. I only wish that the penalty was a felony which would be more of a deterrent.I fully appreciate what you went through and will help anyone who is experiencing the same bullying.I will update when and if it is prosecuted.Wish me luck.