BODY RECLAMATION REVENGE PORN SERIES PT. 2

BODY RECLAMATION REVENGE PORN SERIES PT. 2

Before we begin, I want to say that if you or someone you know has fallen victim to revenge porn, please contact the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative at cybercivilrights.org.
 

Being Contacted:

In spite of what I thought, I have to see them on a regular basis because of how frequently I am messaged online about them. He solicited “me” out on Craigslist. He made up disturbing stories about why he was posting, claiming that I wanted to meet up, and listing things I allegedly did with other people. He created dating profiles using my image and my name. He posted pictures of me along with my identity and contact information all across the underbelly of the Internet, which frequently led to people contacting me looking to get a reaction or hoping to make an exchange. I received offers for sex, sex for money, and threats. The threats varied from threats of exposure, threats of rape, threats of other bodily harm, and threats that my address would be posted online. I am unsure of how many of the messages are from strangers and how many are from him posing to get off on my reaction.


Dating in college was a nightmare. Monogamous partners were mainly either very passive or very domineering. People have told me to get over it, that it’s my fault, which it makes them embarrassed. I accepted this from serious partners for a while because of the shame I felt, and often pushed away guys who I liked a lot because I didn’t feel like they would ever take me seriously when they found out what happened. I liked them not knowing because it made me feel like it never happened and I wouldn’t have to answer for it. It forced me to feel like the authentic, good guys wouldn’t have a clouded opinion of me because of it, and they would never have to explain it to their family or friends if something came up. On a few occasions though, a good guy I was seeing would confront me about it because of something their friend sent them. It was uncomfortable, to say the least, and pushed me deeper into a point where I contemplated hurting myself.

My friends have been sent photos of me along with messages about me. People have left comments on pictures of me claiming that I am beautiful, I am sexy, I am hot, I need to lose 20 pounds, I have stretch marks, they want me, they want to do disgusting things to degrade me and my body, they “love this whore”, “”her pics are here to stay”, “we need to send her these”, they want to hurt me, they are impressed by what they have read online about me, they are entertained by my advocacy and work on social issues, they want to put me in my place. The comments go on.


What I Did:

After a tip-off from a guy claiming to be someone who goes into chat rooms and alerts women of what some men are doing with their pictures, I found the Cyber Rights Legal Project (www.cyberrightsproject.com), and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (www.cybercivilrights.org ). Under the guidance of the incredible attorney and bonafide powerhouse, Elisa D’Amico, I learned what my options were and what they were not. When I first spoke to her, I was sobbing waterfalls. She firmly told me to stop and give her the facts so she could work her magic. She was passionate, empowering, and intimidating—I do not get easily intimidated, but she was and is something else. She helped me find my strength to face what was happening and gave me guidance on what to do next. One thing I needed to contemplate was going to my state capital and seeking out an ally to outlaw what happened to me. I didn’t know how to do this on my own, so I went to the media and teamed up with an investigative journalist. We discovered that there was a bill on the floor that intended to make revenge porn illegal in the state of Oklahoma, but some lawmakers were apprehensive about it.


Revenge porn is the dissemination of revealing or sexually explicit images, audio, and videos of a person that are not to be shared with anyone else. A former partner typically does this, without the consent of the subject to cause them distress or embarrassment. Another aspect of this can sometimes be an online community that does not have any intention of the subject/victim finding out about it. They fetishize the secrecy and the taboo of what they are doing. They fetishize the shaming of a woman without her knowing it, denying her the opportunity to defend herself, tell her side of the story, or take action to put an end to it. When all of this began, I felt alone for years. I was unable to share this with anyone, but those I did share with were just as shocked as I was.  


This began in my life at the point where people didn’t know what to call it and thought that revenge pornography was a category on a smut site. It has been happening for a while, but how often it happens is a mystery because of very few talk about it. This is mainly because of the shame women feel due to a lifetime of being told this type of stuff is usually preventable by them, and not by the person who did it to them (this goes for all forms of emotional and physical violence against women, particularly when it comes to something sexual). There weren’t yet attorneys that specialized in it, and I met with several therapists who did not know how to approach it since they had no experience with it. I contemplated suicide at multiple points, mainly before I came forward. In college, if I weren’t working, studying or spending time with my friends, you could usually find me scouring the Internet for web pages so I could keep up with the pages I was listed on and try to remove any identifying information. It was very unhealthy and very isolating. I confided in a friend that was skilled in cyber security, and this friend spent several days at work sending take-down requests across about 70 websites on my behalf. In spite of this type of support, it was still the loneliest and most depressing period of my life...
 

Heavin | Contributor

*BODY RECLAMATION REVENGE PORN IS A 3-PART SERIES*

Make sure to check out PT. 3 next Friday.