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:-
As a male victim of revenge porn, I felt totally shattered as my life has been completely torn apart. What has made this most hurtful is that this was done by a close family member, someone I trusted and someone who visited me during weekends, Christmas and holidays.
My story begins in 2011, when I decided to open a business and my sister’s partner had agreed to look after me initially as an accountant for the business. For a variety of reasons, the business didn’t really take off. In December 2011, my brother in law came round as usual during Christmas and began making fun of my weight, mentioning I should lose weight and that I looked a mess. There was also something very odd about his behaviour, he was staring at me in such a strange sarcastic way. At this time I didn’t pay much notice. However around March 2012, I noticed my family were withdrawn, very anxious and not including me in their conversations. I felt surprised by the sudden change in their behaviour. I felt suspicious, but also concerned.
Then the reality hit me; someone had distributed something about me. My memory flashed back to the day I had met this women. I didn’t realise, could it really be?
I started to think to myself, could it be that sexually explicit media has been publicly shared online without my consent of it being shared. Then the shocking scenario unfolded.
I spoke to my mother, it became clear, that indeed I was betrayed, I was taped, then the shock was too much to take. I soon learnt that my sister’s partner had shared this with almost everyone in the community, where my family go for religious prayers as part of their worship.Continue reading Victim of Revenge Porn – A Life Ruined – Anonymous→
I am a gay man living in London, I had been in an on and off volatile relationship for over 5 years and recently noticed odd goings on with my boyfriend when I spent time with him at his flat. The oddness would revolve around him messing around with his computer each time I was there but i didnt think much of it!
This happened when we was intimate or on ocassions when I was by myself. I started getting the feeling that I was being watched and each time I was at his flat I had a ‘hunch’ because he was always fooling around with his pc. I asked him if he had been recording me; he said ‘he had not’ but I was sure he had. There was also strange occurances of people coming and going in the flat below and at early hours each time I was at my boyfriends flat.
About a month ago, my then boyfriend admitted that he had been filming me but denied any involvment in the filming although it was via his pc and claimed it had been remotely accessed.
He didnt even say sorry but said that ‘ i shouldnt be so popular’.
I feel really terrible and hurt by what has happened to me. I reported it to the police whom I do not think will do anything due to lack of evidence, even though he has admitted to doing it.
I feel cheated and I have no idea how many men have seen it.
This is something that seems to be going on now in the gay community. I told one of my friends about what had happened to me and he was in shock because one of his other friends, also gay had suffered an almost identical experience and under the same circumstances. The man who did this to me tricked me to come over to his flat and was playing me and pretending he was still into me but this I now know was only to get me on film to be exposed to other gay men in South London. I am pretty sure he was given money and or drugs to do this to me and all for his own personal gain. For all I know he could be doing this to others. Continue reading Im a victim of Revenge Porn and I’m Gay – Anonymous→
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).
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.
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/