Earlier in the year I was invited by The Bristol Cable a new independent local newspaper to give my views with other women about Sexual Harassment and Violence against Women in Bristol. I went with an open mind but mainly from the perspective of recently being a victim of revenge porn. It was a hard to topic to discuss, mainly because its such a wide subject with different strands and some of the questions asked of us I feel needed wider input and maybe another discussion should take place on a wider scale.
I did however meet some really interesting women who in their own right are doing incredible things within the community. The discussion was put onto a podcast which was uploaded to Bristol Cable’s website, have a listen:-
I was in invited by the Ministry of Justice to take part in a live online Q&A Webchat with ACC Gary Shewan, National Police lead for Restorative Justice as well as Stalking and Harassment for Greater Manchester Police and Laura Higgins, Overseer of UK Safer Internet Centre and the newly set up Revenge Porn Helpline.
It was really interesting and rewarding to be involved in this; I was really gratgeful for the opportunity to be able to give answers to questions from the public in regards to Revenge Porn. Changing/challenging public perceptions is not an easy task but at least the MOJ gave it a go. The invitation to attend their offices came as a surprise but at the time there wasnt many victims that had publicly shared their story. Now however there are more victims speaking out about this new technology crime and I am really glad that people are starting to listen and pay attention.
I arrived early enough to be set up online at the MOJ HQ in London; the other participants took part within their own cities. It was nice to be treated with kindness and empathy as I spoke to staff about my experience and what I had done by setting up a website. I had shared the event via my twitter @voic_tweets and also through my voic facebook page; it was an experience that helped those who have been victims and didnt know what to do and also a public perception challenge. There were questions directed at me from a victims perspective and I answered from that point.
OyinkansolaI Onile-Ere, Senior Campaigns Advisor, External Communications, Communication and Information Directorate at the Ministry of Justice emailed me the following results of the live wechat:-
23 questions/comments were asked, there were 186 live page views and 60 replay page views (those reading the transcript of the webchatsince it finished).
Take a look at the live webchat Q&A by following the link: http://www.justice.gov.uk/ministry-of-justice-webchats
Looking back over the last 8 months it has really dawned on me the journey I have had. The real lows and depression moments and the real highs of helping others by coming forward and speaking out. Thomas Samuel thought he could control and shame me by sharing intimate pictures but I have proved him wrong. Everything happened so quickly, my life was no longer my own but now a public porn image for all and sundry to see. I personally think that my pictures where not pornographic in any sense. It has given me strength taking back my power and more so given lots of other people strength too.
For god sake I was in my pink polka dot dressing gown from Asda. Not your everyday porn star image!
Last year I was juggling so many things including knowing that my ex partner Thomas Samuel shared intimate pictures that we took privately together. I decided not long after he had shared them that I was NOT going to let this man ruin my life; I made the decision as soon as I knew what he had done to take action and report him to the police. ‘How dare he I thought! I loved and trusted you’, you now show me that you never loved me as deeply as you claimed you did.
In a dreamy state I thought about how I could help others and set up Victims Of Internet Crime (VOIC) for short. This was the beginning of big changes in my life and a sense of relief that I had shared my story with millions and ultimately finding out that I wasn’t the only victim but I was the only one prepared to speak put publicly.
Although a step in the right direction the law has finally changed and a helpline for victims has been launched. We have a lot of laws in place but it doesn’t really deter people breaking them. The answer I believe is education, discussions and training from grassroots level right up to public sector/private sector and normal everyday people. Challenging perceptions, challenging the media, going into educational establishments and talking to the younger generation about social media, training our police force to understand how to deal with these cases by showing compassion/empathy and listening. Who better to do this but the victims themselves.
Continue reading Revenge Porn – A Blog I wrote for Brett Wilson LLP E-Book
As i reflect on the last 6 months of 2014 I think to myself; I am glad that i spoke out and shared my story with probably ‘the world’ but most definitely people within the UK.
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!
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
Firstly I would like to give my sincere apologies….! The media has its uses but unfortunately they can also take things out of context. I would like to personally apologise to any ‘victims of rape’ if I have offended you. The headline for the article in The Sun Newspaper should have read ‘cyber raped’ as this is how I feel. Cyber raped by people viewing photos of me that I did not consent to allowing them to view 48,0000 times.
“My life has been completely turned upside down. When Thomas and I took those photos, we were in love and planning on getting married. I sent him one picture and the others he took of me himself. They were for our eyes only and I trusted him to keep them between us. We were in a happy relationship and it never crossed my mind that Thomas would share the pictures publicly and use them against me.When I discovered he’d put them online and they’d been viewed by my family, friends and the people I worked with I felt sick to the stomach. I felt raped, numb and crushed. It was so violating.”
When we first got together I thought ‘wow’ and I told my kids: ‘he’s the one’. I was besotted. We seemed to have so much in common. Continue reading My Story