For god sake I was in my pink polka dot dressing gown from Asda. Not your everyday porn star image!
I started speaking to a man online and I had sent him photos of me! They were normal pictures and nothing sexual or explicit. The man I was talking to also had my contact details. Not long after our first conversation; the man told me that he had been in prison and had a past history violence. I felt that I no longer wanted to continue speaking with him and distanced myself from him.
I stopped returning his calls. Then I started getting calls from different men who started harassing me. I was so humiliated that all these men were contacting me and harrassing me I eventually changed my number.
My story begins nearly 2 years ago in the summer of 2013 when I went away on holiday with my friends and my boyfriend of nearly 2 year ends the relationship because he “can’t trust me”. However when I got home it was a couple of weeks after, I was being bombarded with calls and texts from my ex who wanted to meet up to try and rekindle things; however I did not feel the same so tried to ignore the texts and calls then I changed my social media to private, however then I started getting nasty emails.
A couple of days later when getting ready to go out with friends my door bell rang, it was a man whom i had never met before and was convinced I had been speaking to him on dating site. I was completely shocked, scared and embarrassed. A further 2 more men came to my house saying the same thing. I then recieved messages on Whatsapp from men who had got my number of a dating websites. I tried getting onto these sites; however I did not have the email addresess to remove the profiles. Then my worst nightmare happened, fake profilesof me had been put up on Facebook and Twitter leaking intimate photos of me and referred to me as being a ‘slut’. I was so embarrassed and angry so I got in touch with the police who didn’t even know where to begin. The police took ages in getting him in for questioning.
About 2 months after I phoned the policw, they arrested him and charged him for breaching the communication act due to the emails he sent. At the time there was no laws in place for revenge and I don’t think they fully looked into my case which has made me lose my faith in the police and justice system in this country. My case was later closed after two court appearances. I have experienced being recognised by two men in a bar which made me feel so anxious and made me lose my confidence in going out. Nearly 2 years on I am still effected I have anxiety attacks when in the house alone and I feel panicky when I hear the door bell or the phone ring. It has caused relationship problems with my mum and dad as they were obviously embarrassed and blamed me for what happened as no parent wants to think of their child letting their partner take pictures of them; so my relationship with them has been effected.
I am anxious when I go out as I worry I’m going to be recognised even seeing people I know from school makes me so anxious as I fear they will laugh at me as they probably know what’s happened; however I could have never felt how I feel know which is much happier, due to my family and friends who have been there for me so much and can’t thank them enough.
I believe revenge porn is going to get worse as our daily lives consist of social networking and the Internet and more needs to be done for the victims. Revenge porn is a form of abuse and should be taken seriously. To my fellow victims I share your pain and hurt and to anyone out there experiencing this right now you are not alone.
Sunday 8th February saw the launch of a new helpline for victims of revenge porn. This is something that I am hoping will make a huge difference and will help those who are either in fear or who are victims have someone to talk to.
Since the launch of the new helpline I have been inundated with requests from victims and media, it’s been overwhelming and one that I didn’t anticipate in happening when I set up this support website. It’s a good thing I presume but as there is only one of me this is the time where VOIC needs to become a collective of voices and others would speak out on behalf of VOIC.
Source: GOV.UK Government Equalities Office The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP and the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP
The specialist helpline is the latest in a series of measures taken by the government to tackle the growing problem of people sharing intimate images online as a way of seeking revenge or ridiculing individuals.
The helpline, run by South West Grid for Learning Trust, will provide callers with information on legal help available and their right to have the images removed from websites.
The helpline will liaise with law enforcement and media companies to remove content where possible, and offer details of free legal advice. It will also point individuals to additional support services, such as Women’s Aid, Stalking helpline or Relate if needed. Continue reading Launch of New Helpline for Victims
A new law has been passed to try and tackle the increase in the use of Non-consensual Pornography aka Revenge Porn. Is this enough?
My view is that it’s a step in the right direction. England have many laws that are not adhered too so what makes this law any different to all the others. I think nothing major will change but there will be an increase in the number of people coming forward which will make the case loads for the already under pressure Police Force immense. I think due to the nature of this new techno crime it will be hard and almost impossible for all cases to be treated fairly as different Police authorities deal with cases as they see fit.
Women that have made direct contact with me during my campaign to stand up and speak out about revenge porn have told me that there cases have not been dealt with or taken as seriously as mine was.
Avon and Somerset Police are an exemplar Police Authority who I must reiterate took very good care of my needs, they were compassionate and acted swiftly. The Trinity Road Police Station staff were very instrumental in making sure my perpetrator was taken to court and I personally thank them for understanding and caring.
I think we need to tackle this new tech crime at grassroots level, talks with educational establishments, schools, colleges and universities need to take place to warn of the dangers of how destructive sharing explicit photos can be. The Police Force throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland need to have first hand training on how to deal with victims and why not use the victims (those who are willing) to speak about their experiences as I am sure this will help.
My work highlighting the affects Revenge Porn has on victims and my subsequent profile raising by sharing my story on national television attracted women who had gone through the same or similar experience.
Sonja contacted me via Facebook and sent me a message of support for coming out and speaking about my ordeal. Sonja has gone through a similar situation by her stalker which stems her abuse over 4 years. I have been supporting Sonja to help her cope with the frustrations she has experienced from the Police and the lack of support from others in helping her to bring her perpetrator to justice. This is one of the many things Sonja told me:
I have just felt so alone with it all. The most disappointing time of my life, going through a divorce and dealing with the stalker. I have lost all faith in the things I was brought up to believe in, the law, order, what is right, justice……it’s shook me to the core
I was contacted in October 2014 by a student Alicia Gonzalez Betancort who is a student at Bournemouth University who as part of her course wanted to quote me about my experience being a victim of revenge porn. Time was of the essence and Sonja lived in closer proximity to Alicia so I asked Sonja if she would mind doing a small clip to share her story as Alicia’s case study. I told Sonja that talking about her ordeal would help her come to terms with it and help her to accept what has happened to her plus aid her healing.
Sonja shares her story:
This video was produced by Alicia Gonzalez Betancort who is a student at Bournemouth University. Alicia has been interested in the topic of Abuse against women and you can see more of her articles by clicking on the following link: http://buzz.bournemouth.ac.uk/revenge-porn-homepage/
Many people have shared their views which have been mostly positive; It was an experience that ‘I wish no other to have to go through’ but as I write this article in reflection I know that the same fate has happened to many others.
The moment I decided to ‘stand up for myself and take the power back’ from my ex Thomas Samuel I had no clue as to what was going to happen next. I just knew that I had to turn a negative situation into a positive. The support I had was amazing I am truly grateful for all the positive comments:
‘I am so proud of you for standing up and showing the damage the internet and social media can inflict and how prolific the fall out can be. I wanted to show my total gratitude for your bravery and spirit’
‘I am really proud of you’
‘You did amazing in the This Morning interview and i learn a lot. Your a brave and amazing woman’
‘I saw your interview on This Morning; I am so proud of you; I wish the man who did this to you got a longer sentence’
‘Do you know how many women that are still out there suffering in silence because of shame; you’re doing a remarkable thing’
‘Your being brave by going public turning the bad into a positive force to help others’
‘You’re an inspirational woman hold your head high, keep strong and keep doing what your doing’
If you have been a victim of revenge porn (I actually despise this terminology and will one day come up with another more fitting name) share your story and get in contact with me. I want to support and help in anyway I can. Please do not feel ashamed. I found writing very therapeutic!
A JILTED labourer who could not deal with rejection posted intimate images of his ex-girlfriend online and sent them to her new boyfriend.
Anastasija Mazepa was left devastated and afraid after Artuis Lobacs, 25, stalked her, bombarded her with text messages and emails, and set up a fake Facebook account under her name to post even more images.
Lobacs, of Tyndale Avenue, Fishponds was at Bristol Magistrates’ Court to be sentenced after pleading guilty to harassing Ms Mazepa between August 29 and October 12.
Richard Nicholls, prosecuting, said the relationship came to an end at the beginning of 2014 but in August she discovered he had been asking her friends and had visited her mother to ask when she would be returning to Bristol from Latvia.
After Ms Mazepa did eventually return at the end of August he located her on a bus and sat next to her.
“She explained the relationship was over and that she didn’t want him to contact her,” Mr Nicholls said.
“She went shopping but when she returned some hours after he was still waiting for her at the bus stop and followed her onto the bus.
“It was at this point he threatened her that he would send intimate photos of her to her friends and family if they didn’t get back together.
“He said effectively that she had hurt him emotionally and he would do the same to her.”
Ms Mazepa returned to Latvia but while there Lobacs sent some intimate pictures of her to her new boyfriend via Facebook the court heard.
And since the summer Lobacs had bombarded Ms Mazepa with numerous texts and emails generally asking to get back together with her but also saying he would ruin her life and destroy her new relationship.
As a result Ms Mazepa changed both her mobile phone numbers.
On one occasion her mother phoned her to say he was at her gates wanting to see her.
Lobacs continued to contact Ms Mazepa and she started to become more concerned about his conduct.
On one occasion he waited eight hours at a bus stop for her to appear and twice called at her house, knocking on windows and doors causing her to phone the police.
On October 11 she received a friend request from somebody with the same name as her and when going onto the page found semi-naked photos of her taken three years earlier, leaving her feeling sick.
In a victim impact statement, Ms Mazepa said she was scared of leaving her house on her own, struggled to sleep, and was constantly looking over her shoulder because she was terrified what he would do next.
Defending, Angela Thornton said: “He was in love with somebody. That it ended was her choice and he struggled to come to terms with that. He regrets bitterly what occurred.”
Magistrates told Lobacs: “This was nasty, vindictive behaviour that was completely unnecessary and put a young lady in fear.”
Lobacs was given a 12-month community order with 200 hours unpaid work and a three-month tagged curfew between 9pm and 6am.
An indefinite restraining order was also put in place and he must pay Ms Mazepa £100 compensation.
This has been going on for a number of years; the sexual exploitation of women and young girls on the internet. The internet has evolved at an alarming rate over the last 10 years if not less. There is no one policing or monitoring its usage. In fact you are able to upload anything you like from any source about any person and there is nothing in place to stop people doing this.
This is a story that could happen to almost any teenager on the Internet. They call themselves ‘cappers’ – a new breed of cyber-predators who systematically stalk websites looking for girls on webcams, flatter them into performing sexual acts, then capture their images. Some use those images to blackmail their victims, in a fast-growing online crime that goes far beyond Amanda Todd.
Listen to her story!
My interview on This Morning was the beginning of something that I hoped would help others going through what I had experienced and bring the issue to the mainstream audience. Little did I know how this exposure would affect, not only me as an individual trying to make good of a bad situation but also how the topic of ‘Revenge Porn’ is viewed by others.
It was definitely an opportunity I could not possibly ignore. I am on a mission to empower and support others by showing my strength and commitment to something very close to home. I have experienced mixed emotions and at times thought….
“Maybe I should have crawled under a rock and kept quiet”
In hindsight I received a lot of support and have had publicity interests to help highlight what I am doing, which has empowered me even more to reach my aspirational goals. There have also been those negative hurtful comments that you allow to ‘niggle’ away at your inner core. It’s easier for other people to make judgement or indeed feed on another persons misfortune.
The hardest part of this journey so far has been learning how to become a sieve, to be resilient and not let negativity get into your space.
Here is the link to my interview http://www.itv.com/thismorning/hot-topics/revenge-porn-victim-folami-prehaye