Victim of Nonconsensual Pornography in the US? Call our Crisis Helpline.

It’s been just over a year since Cyber Civil Rights Initiative incorporated as a non-profit and we are finally able to offer a service that victims of nonconsensual pornography (i.e., revenge porn) desperately need: A Helpline*.

The first person I called when I learned my ex-boyfriend created an eBay auction and tried to sell a CD of 88 nude images of me was my therapist. It was after 4pm on a Friday. When she answered her phone, I blurted out the story to her and pleaded for her to help me, to tell me what to do. I was sure she’d talk me through the panic, help me make a plan to deal with this, and stay on the phone with me until I was ready to take the next steps.

She did none of that. Her response wasn’t dismissive; she had just finished up with a client and was getting ready to leave for the weekend. Her tone was firm and gentle. She assured me I was strong enough to handle this. We set an appointment for Monday.

Then I called my mother. She was dismissive. She rushed me off the phone, speaking in code. I understood right away; she didn’t want my father to know what was happening. These things were best handled between my mother and I when she could speak freely.

The night before the auction went live, I contacted the police and explained what was happening–that my ex was threatening to sell a CD of nude images of me. Surely this was illegal, I implored. The officers I spoke with were far from helpful. They were condescending. They were cruelly dismissive.

I don’t fault my therapist or mother for the reaction I received. We had never heard of anyone doing something like that. There had been no discussions of this reprehensible behavior. There was no language to adequately describe what he did. The closest I could think was to call it online harassment and stalking. Without language, without someone to guide, comfort and reassure me, I felt painfully isolated.

I keep that isolated feeling close to the surface every time I interact with a victim in my role as victim advocate for CCRI. I remember what I desperately needed and wanted and strive to be that person for those who reach out to us for support and guidance. Through the process of researching and vetting resources, I put together a reference guide that I would refer to when answering victims’ emails.

As CCRI grew, the demand for services for our victims increased. I offered to put my cobbled-together notes into a more comprehensive training manual for when we were ready to take on new volunteers. But in September, my project took on a new urgency as we began the process to start the CCRI Crisis Helpline.

What I initially thought was going to be a 3 or 4-page document grew into a 45-page manual by the end of the first day of writing. This is why our helpline is so important. Victims finally have access to a resource that brings together the experiences and knowledge of all of CCRI’s advocates. Victims will no longer be dismissed when they make that first call.

The goal of CCRI as we expand our services is to ensure reliable, consistent resources for victims in need. The training manual and launch of the helpline are two more steps towards meeting that goal, a goal that we need your help to reach. Your donations will allow us to keep this helpline up and running, and eventually extend it to victims outside of the US. Every donation answers another call from victims who have nowhere else to go. Donate here and help us end revenge porn!

Love,

Annmarie Chiarini

 

If you are a victim of nonconsensual pornography, call our CCRI Crisis Helpline: 844-878-CCRI(2274).

*Until further notice, the CCRI Crisis Helpline will only be able provide assistance to victims calling from within the US.