My Journey

My Lonely Walk As a Survivor of Revenge Porn

For those following my journey, I feel that at times I need to tell you how I feel.

LonleyThis has been a very lonely journey and at times I feel frustrated, disappointed but really not surprised to be honest. I have been helping other victims since becoming a victim of Revenge Porn in 2014, which is over a year ago and long before the Revenge Porn Helpline or the new Revenge Porn Law came into fruition.

Its alarming how those who claim to be fighting the same cause, ‘raising awareness of revenge porn’; ‘those who provide support & advice to victims of revenge porn’ deem to do so alone. I have tried to reach out to victims who speak out publicly (by the way there aren’t many) and other agencies to work in partnership against this heinous, sole destroying and destructive crime.  To date this proves to be a battle – just like battling my fears when I was a victim of revenge porn.

Now a survivor I feel that I have made my stance clear!

I do this because I care, because I’m passionate and no longer want to be a victim but to take control of my life. I do this because I want others to see that even though life can be painful and people are cruel, vindictive and hurtful. You can rebuild your life.

Continue reading My Lonely Walk As a Survivor of Revenge Porn

Sextortion – Sexual Exploitation On The Rise

BE AWARE & ALERT

This crime is on the rise

In the summer of this year, I was asked to be a guest presenter on Crimewatch.  My topic ‘sextortion’.

Talking about the rise of this internet crime, it dawned on me that this in fact is another ploy to publicly embarrass, victimize and cause destructive stress to victims by using sexual images or videos, but with an added financial gain.

This is the crime that involves extorting money or holding someone to ransom for  financial gain. If your not careful you could easily become a victim! Victims are often caught out by surprise, they think they have befriended someone genuine through social media. This could be via Facebook, or any social media platform. Victims are usually caught out after a brief conversation or after building a very brief but sexual relationship with someone they think is real.  Then when the victim feels comfortable they are coaxed to either talk via a webcam using an online gateway or by using another form of webcam device such as Skype.

I interviewed, Wayne from Scam Survivors on Crimewatch.

Wayne has an interest in online scams/scammers and works on a voluntary basis to help victims get rid of the scammers who have tried to extort them for financial gain. Continue reading Sextortion – Sexual Exploitation On The Rise

You cannot empower others without your power!

‘It is important to understand that my journey was and still is very very painful’ 

shameThis is apparent if you watched me when I first appeared on This Morning, you could see the pain in my eyes, you could feel the pain in my words. Yesterday again I appeared on TV, The Lorraine Kelly Morning Show, this time a year later.

I didn’t want to come across like a victim because that I am not, I am a survivor! It’s important for those that watched/listened to me and may have thought:

Ahhh! But she looks well, she has got over the ordeal rather quickly, look how confident she is, she doesn’t sound or look like a victim!

Let me just say for me to be able to help another I feel you need to have dealt with your pain, your torture, your anxieties and your shame, otherwise you are helpless to another and will only add your burdens to theirs. This is not empowering.

I am still healing, although I have very much taken back my power,  I hold my head high and walk strong.

I still feel pain, hurt and mistrust!

Talking on The Lorraine Kelly Show yesterday opened up the pain I had hidden away, the pain I thought I had dealt with. I woke up this morning feeling very very low, emotionally fragile and started to cry. I know in time it will pass and I will find that kind heart that beats in time with mine. I cry  and laugh to help me heal but I laugh more.

I wanted to show those who cannot speak up or who are afraid and still ashamed that life goes on. You cannot stay a victim forever, this I know is very hard and does take time, probably a very long time. I have connected with people that have wanted to ‘take their life’ and end the pain of public shame – I haven’t personally had those thoughts but empathise with those who do.

This is not an easy journey, its painful and at times very very unbearable for many. 

Becoming a survivor means the perpetrator hasn’t beaten you, you have taken back control and continue to live your life and I’m all for surviving as we only have one life and god knows it’s short enough! #revengeporn

Revenge Porn – My Journey 1 Year On Lorraine Kelly ITV

Lorraine Kelly & Me

What an amazing journey this last year has been! Monday 23 November 2015,  I was invited to talk on the Lorraine Kelly Morning Show at ITV Studios.

 

Watch my discussion with Lorraine Kelly by clicking the link below:

http://www.itv.com/lorraine/hot-topics/i-was-a-victim-of-revenge-porn

This has always been and will continue to be about keeping the topic of revenge porn alive. Sharing my experience and sharing how to take your power and control back after having your personal photos shared with the whole world. The connection I had with Lorraine was warm and caring, she understood, she empathised and paid attention to every word I said.

I am no longer a victim of revenge porn but a survivor, a strong woman that has taken back control of her life, I walk with my head high as I know that I did nothing wrong! I was the victim in all of this and I never consented to allowing my intimate photos to be shared outside of my ‘then’ relationship. Hatred and anger has left my heart and I now embrace the journey that has been given to me. My path has opened doors and enabled me to connect with people all over the world.

It makes me so happy to be able to connect with people who are still victims and to be able to support them emotionally through their journey, its a honour.  I will continue to speak up and speak out about Revenge Porn until such time that victims feel strong enough to walk by my side and speak in unison.

If you have been affected by Revenge Porn and don’t know who to turn to for emotional support please contact me. I will listen without judging you, I will show compassion because its so close to my heart and I have been there. I understand and  know the journey you are on. Reach out to me and together we can make a difference. Take back your power and regain the strength to move on in your life and share the burden. Follow me on twitter @voic_tweets and Instagram victims_of_internet_crime. I am also on facebook and email: info@voic.org.uk, so there are many ways you can reach out and connect with me.

 

Revenge Porn – The Independent on Sunday

The new revenge porn changes in Law! Will it make a difference? Will it change the lives of the victim but now you have to have proof that the intent was there and evidence to back it up. I have had a few victims tell me that they have got evidence and even a confession and the police are not taking up her case!

Does this mean that the buck stops with the Police as to whether they take on a case or not. Will these types of interventions encourage victims to come forward? It seems that the Police need hands on training and guidance as different forces deal with their caseloads on revenge porn in different ways. Should their not be common focused approaches to this crime? Read my opinion in the Independent on Sunday:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/revenge-porn-law-will-not-help-victims-say-campaigners-10187326.html

 

My Journey of Enlightenment

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Imagine a ship that travels from port to port, picking up passengers from near and afar. We mingled together and had many a good times, laughter was had but also sad times.

There were ups and downs on this ship but friendship kept our spirits high. The years past and the ship no longer visited the ports but drifted into the ocean and lost it’s direction but friendships kept our spirits high. We laughed and joked and kept the momentum going.

The waves became rockier and the wind would howl against the mast of the ship. Suddenly I felt the water beneath me, it was waist high….was I drowning? No I was swimming and friendships kept my spirits high.

The water was deep as I swam and swam with no clear direction. I could see the shore ahead, the sand was golden and the waves calm as the water ebbed and flowed but as I swam the sharks attacked hungry for a weak and helpless catch but I swam towards the shore, I kept thought of the friendships that kept my spirits high and fought off the sharks with this in mind.

Finally I reached the shore, I took a deep sigh and a very deep breadth it was at this point I realised that the friendships that had kept my spirits high was the reason I was alive.

Revenge Porn Now A Criminal Offence

Revenge Porn is now a criminal offence in England and Wales. Although the law has recognised the effects Revenge Porn can have on it’s victim, is it really enough of a deterrent!

Perpetrators can now receive up to 2 years imprisonment  but victims need to show evidential proof that they have indeed been a victim of such a vindictive crime, putting the victim in a position of fear. So what happens if you can’t prove without reasonable doubt that you have had intimate photos or videos of yourself shared for the whole world to see? Well let’s watch and wait as the time passes and more and more victims stand up and speak out. Let’s see if the change in law really makes a difference.

I made it clear when asked on a recent interview with Channel 5 News if I felt the change in law would make a difference. Listen to what I had to say https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5obq2sOMdl4

 

 

Round Table Discussion Sexual Harassment & Violence Against Women in the City – Bristol Cable

logo-white-trans-nosubheading2Earlier 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:-

http://thebristolcable.org/2015/02/round-table-discussion-sexual-harassment-and-violence-against-women-in-the-city/

 

Ministry of Justice Live Webchat – Subject Revenge Porn

Ministry-of-Justice-UKI 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 

Revenge Porn – A Blog I wrote for Brett Wilson LLP E-Book

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