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.