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’.