Voices of Victims is a series of anonymous submissions by victims of revenge porn. The post below has been lightly copy-edited but otherwise reads exactly as submitted. Remember: You are not alone.
Almost seven years ago, I left my abusive fiancé. He’d been taking explicit photos and videos of me, and sharing them without my permission already, using them as blackmail to force various sex acts from me that I was not comfortable with, while pretending to be a “hacker.” He was attending West Point at the time, and he said he could get expelled if they were revealed, so I did everything, despite my discomfort. Until one day I said no, and he raped me instead, claiming to not remember it after the fact.
But when I got up the courage and left, he released all of my photos and videos to porn sites and several classmates’ emails, despite the fact that I’d been under eighteen at the time of their taking (and below the age of consent in NY for some of them, at sixteen). As well as that, he released my phone number and address and email, pretending to be me, and I received phone calls and emails from strange men who wanted to visit me. I had to ask several websites to take down nude pictures of me, and received no response from many of them. And on top of everything else, he continued to contact me for years through his various girlfriends who claimed he wanted to repent. It’s been three years since he last contacted me, but I never know if he’ll do it again someday.
My pictures have been lost to the ether, and I cannot find them via search, but who knows if they’re still out there, and I never know if there are people in the world who think that I sent them photos while he was pretending to be me, who can track me down with my name and find me and my family like my ex has before. I’ve been humiliated; I’m scared to make contact online (which is important, as I’m an online-publishing author), I have relationship issues with my husband because of this. I still have nightmares about it. I’m still ashamed. I wish I could erase this from my past, and I wish there were a way to help others going through it. So if I can, I want to, and if that’s by speaking, then so be it.
If you’re a victim of revenge porn you can contact our victim advocates here.
Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) is currently seeking professionals who are qualified, willing, and able to help victims of revenge porn. Victims across the United States are in dire need of attorneys, certified counselors/therapists, and victims advocates/social workers
Only a few states in the US have criminal laws against revenge porn. However, all states have civil statutes (e.g., invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, public disclosure of private facts, etc.) that apply to revenge porn cases. This means that, with the help of a lawyer, revenge porn victims can use these statutes to bring their perpetrators to justice. We are therefore seeking lawyers who can write legal letters for victims and/or take their cases to civil court.
Revenge porn is a form of sexual assault that inflicts a great deal of trauma and stress upon its victims. We are looking for certified psychologists who are able to help victims work through this trauma and heal from the damage that it has caused.
There are a great deal of resources available to victims of sexual assault and related crimes that could also be helpful to victims of revenge porn. If you are a victim advocate or social worker who is familiar with these resources and would be willing to work directly with revenge porn victims, please contact us.
As most victims cannot afford to pay for these specialists at their standard cost, we are looking for professionals who are able to help victims pro bono or at a reduced cost. If you are interested, please fill out this form and one of our representatives will follow up with you as soon as possible.
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Isn’t it amazing how one second can alter your life so much?
Well, that’s exactly how I felt on February 22, 2012 and every day after. That moment when you discover you’re nude all over the internet will definitely send a million emotions through your head, to say the least. The most common thoughts that ran through my head were “what if I never checked my email” or “what if I never dated him” or “what if I never hit send?” I’m sure many victims feel the same way. But then I took a step back and realized the only mistake I made was trusting such a disturbing individual.
I can remember that the moments leading up to that email, my biggest concern was studying for that exam that I never got the chance to take and a second later my biggest concern would become getting my pictures off of pornographic sites. In that moment I wanted to curl up and die, I didn’t care who I would be leaving behind on this earth, I was humiliated and felt so betrayed. Nobody could possibly understand how I felt. The tears poured down my face instantaneously. I kept thinking to myself “this can’t be real, this only happens in movies, how could someone I trusted so much do this to me?” I felt like someone had just stabbed me in the gut, sadly a feeling that I would feel all too familiar with later.
I wanted to go backwards in time, just to five minutes before and never open that email. I knew from that minute on that my life would never be the same. The pictures had been up for three months before they surfaced to my attention. Anything given that much time on the internet has the capability of going viral. In time, I realized that’s exactly what happened with my pictures. They started on one site and ended up on more than one hundred and continue to circulate. In that moment, I felt that my only option was to go to the police. I called my friend and she rushed over to be by my side. She supported me through everything and took me to the police station. The police were extremely helpful right away; they started writing down points and investigating into my case immediately. Their advice to me was to go home and call the sites that I had been notified about and see if they could take down the pictures.
I did just that. I was asked to email someone that worked for each site and send a picture of myself holding up a sign with my name on it. This was to verify that the pictures online were of me. Once the email was received, the pictures were removed within 24 hours. On March 18, 2012, I was down the shore at my best friends shore house when I received a phone call around 11AM from the police station. When I picked up the phone call it was a voice that I was not familiar with. It was an officer that I had not worked with previously on my case. He called to tell me that my ex was in custody and that they needed me to come down to the station to fill out some paper work. I literally said “okay, thank you” and hung up in shock. The idea of them catching my ex and him getting arrested was such a foreign thought.
Though I live in New Jersey, where it’s illegal to post nude photos of someone without their consent, I was told over and over again that this was such a gray area in law and that it’s extremely difficult to catch the perpetrator. So to get a phone call like that completely caught me off guard. The plan was to stay at the shore house until the evening on that Sunday, however I was so frantic I knew that sitting there would just keep me wondering what was going on. I packed my overnight bag up quickly and headed out to finally close this chapter in my life. Hours later I arrived at the police station where I was told that my ex had been released ten minutes prior to my arrival. This made me extremely nervous seeing as there was a chance I could have run into him in the parking lot if I was just a few minutes earlier. I was brought into a small room where I was told that my ex boyfriend was questioned and he denied everything and then later admitted to posting naked pictures of me without my consent. I was asked to do a written statement and I was told he would be getting charged with Invasion of Privacy. I was told this was a domestic violence case and because we were once in a dating relationship I had the opportunity to get a temporary restraining order. Since I clearly did not know my ex the way I thought I did, I figured it would be smart to get a temporary restraining order. Because it was Sunday, the officer had to call the judge at home to get it approved. After staying on the phone with the judge for about a half hour, my TRO (temporary restraining order) was granted and I would have to appear in court the following week to make it a final restraining order (FRO).
With an end in sight, I walked out of that police station, holding my head high and feeling relieved. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of a long journey ahead.