Events

Love Death & Taxes – Image Based Sexual Abuse Within The LGBTQ Community

That moment when you feel proud of your achievements as you watch someone you have supported stand up and speak their truths in front of complete strangers.

It’s been a long journey and one that has felt really lonely as well as doubting your ability to make a difference and yet still there I was sitting next to David Canham as he spoke so openly and emotionally about his experience of being violated, shamed and broken down to the core of the non-consensual sharing of intimate sexual images of him at the Love, Death & Taxes event organised by Mishcon de Reya LLP and the Gay Women’s Network on the 23rd October 2019.

David’s story mirrors mine and many other experiencers regarding the long-term emotional turmoil that follows the experience and the long-term rehabilitation of self thereafter. I felt overwhelmed by the experience of being able to support another where this wasn’t available to me 5 years ago. I felt accomplished, proud, tearful but humbled at the same time but most of all it felt right.

I found out like many others who attended the event the depth of the intricate layers that the LGBTQ community has. David shared very deep personal attributes to his experience which highlighted the use of drugs within the LGBTQ community and trust me this is only one layer or many. It is clear that there is a need for signposting and general emotional support but there is also much more that needs to be done, to understand the layers in order to ascertain the support that is needed. The event for me as the founder of VOIC was to connect with those within the LGBTQ community that can help to make a difference. To help break barriers, stereotypes and acknowledge that Image Based Sexual Abuse (Revenge Porn) happens in all communities and that they are not immune.

Throughout my journey I have always said that I’ve found it hard at times as a woman; more to the point a Black woman speaking openly about my experience although at the time I felt this was my only option to try and make sense of what happened and used it as a coping mechanism to taking back my power. I have always said that speaking out will be hard for a male to follow suite.

On the 23rd October 2019, David Canham spoke his truths and made a difference not only to him but also to me and all the other people that attentively and emotionally listened to what was said. It was humbling. David’s personal thoughts about the event can be viewed here. The other panel members Professor Erika Rackley (Law School, Kent University) and Sophie Mortimer (Manager, Revenge Porn Helpline) both complemented David’s personal journey and reiterated the need for the LGBTQ community to speak out about Image Based Sexual Abuse, they both made referenced the gaps in services specifically catering for that community and the importance of raising awareness.

You know, there are so many social norms that are unacceptable and I commend David for holding his own and taking that step to stand up and speak out. The LGBTQ community is one of many marginalised and hard to reach communities that have lots of intricate layers. We need a breakthrough in order to get to the nitty gritty of the impact, experience, doubt, non-acceptance of image based sexual abuse before we can educate and signpost.

I aim to make a difference with those that took the time to connect with myself and David at the event, as I am a great believer that together ‘we can make a difference’.

Changing Perceptions & Expectations of Others

The 1 July 2019 was a truly momentous and memorable day as it saw the launch of a very significant and pertinent report/research.

Shattering Lives and Myths – A Report on Image Based Sexual Abuse

This very detailed and inclusive report was undertaken by Prof Clare McGlynn, Durham University, Prof Erika Rackley, University of Kent & Asst Prof Kelly Johnson, Durham University. It highlighted all the key recommendations to Parliament in respect of the changes to the current law provision that need to be put in place in relation to online sexual abuse and sharing of explicit content without consent (a form of abuse). 

The lead up to the launch was for me as usual busy with media requests, which honestly has been a part of my journey for the last 5 years. There have been so many occasions when I have ‘swore,  screamed and cried’ at some of the outcomes of interviews but the interview done with Channel 5 News captured exactly how it should be done.

Channel 5 News Interview – Online Abuse Review Launch June 2019

The launch was a crucial milestone for victims, activist, researchers and supporters for changes that can only be of benefit to those made to feel like they have done something wrong. To read the full report visit my post Shattering Myths about Image Based Sexual Abuse – Clare McGlynn, Erika Rackley and Kelly Johnson

It’s about time the laws reflected the voice of the victim and not the actions of the perpetrator/accused. I am ready for change and will continue working collaboratively with those who share the same vision and finding creative ways of:

Challenging and changing perceptions/expectations of how this crime is viewed, dissected, portrayed and sensationalized

The launch was held in the House of Parliament and chaired by Maria Miller MP; attendees was a mixture of activists, support charities and victims. The questions that arose from the launch were challenging with many positive acknowledgments to the proposed changes.

There where powerful expressive emotional journey talks by others who have also experienced the cruel and disheartening crime of their sexual images being shared without consent. Listening to the impact it had on their lives brought ‘tears to mine’ it reminded me of mine and many that I have had the opportunity to support through their journey. Although saying this I was also ‘inspired’ by their fire and motivation to take back their power and to stand in a public and talk their truths.

Digital Abuse: A Collaboration Between Artists & Activists

Have you been a victim of Image Based Sexual Abuse aka Revenge Porn?

As a survivor and having directly been affected by this, I am putting myself out there!

Over the last 2 years I have worked tirelessly to help victims take back their power and learn how to take control of the impact this crime has. Its abuse and shouldn’t be tolerated. Let us stand together and make a difference, let us heal together and share our journeys. I know that it isn’t easy to ‘stand up and speak out’ about being abused – trust me it was a decision I didn’t make lightly but I feel so much better for doing so.

Working in collaboration with Sarah, an artist/activist I am taking part in the ‘Digital Abuse’ project –  which is a collaborative effort between artists and activists that uses education, empowerment and visibility to facilitate discussion, raise awareness and combat public perception of Image Based Sexual Abuse and the treatment of women online.

There are many ways in which you can speak out about your trauma! You don’t have to use words. Here is one of my journey photographs that I did with See It From Her – Survivors Project in 2016.

                                 You took a piece of me - Folami Prehaye

We are hoping that you are also ready to share your journey, share the burden and release some of that stigma that comes with being a victim of abuse.  We encourage you to join us in a united front. If you are ready to share and take back your power and would like to make a difference, come along to our creative workshop on the 13th and 14th of May.

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