Tag Archives: #experiencers #IBSA

Love Death & Taxes – Image Based Sexual Abuse Within the LGBTQ Community by David Canham

It’s been 4 weeks since the 23rd October, and 4 weeks on I’m slowly beginning to realise just how important that date was…both in a deeply personal way, and in the representation of male IBSA experiencers – whether gay or straight.

Predominately this was an evening to raise awareness about Image Based Sexual Abuse within the LGBTQ community, but it was also about taking those first important steps towards unshackling myself from the humiliation and shame that an IBSA crime bestowed on my life, 3 years ago.

It was about speaking a truth, my truth, and in so doing decreasing the power that experience had over me.

Ultimately that’s what these crimes are all about, the power that the perpetrator(s) have over you….by the way of intentional public shaming. But once you begin to acknowledge, and find a way to ‘own your truth’, that power is diminished. My recovery journey is far from complete, but I will say this, the 23rd October now feels like a truly pivotal turning point in my life. A game changer if you will.

For those of you that have followed my journey, through social media or otherwise, you will know how much this issue means to me – it is truly close it is to my heart – particularly in terms of IBSA representation within the gay community. At the beginning of this year, I challenged myself to fight my fears and speak out. The fight against Image Based Sexual Abuse crimes cannot be won on words alone, and neither could I successfully participate in that battle without being able to vocally speak out.

When I was asked to participate as a member of the panel, I knew instantly that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t. Despite my fears about speaking publicly, I surprised myself. There was so much that I wanted to say, perhaps there were things that I wanted to say…and didn’t. I have no regrets, only excitement for the future….and what could be achieved in establishing better recognition for both current and future victims of IBSA (Revenge Porn). These crimes are here to stay, and they are developing and adapting. They are destroying more lives on a daily basis and we desperately need change to happen now.

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’.