Thought Catalog

How To Handle Being A Victim Of Revenge Porn

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“Well, I guess you’ve learnt your lesson now then,” said my case officer, after she had taken notes of the story I had relayed to her.

The lack of support and blatant victim-shaming caused me to instantly curl up into a ball of tears as soon as both police officers let themselves out. I was scared for my own safety from myself, so I called up a friend to come over with wine as I ordered us some pizzas.

It was something I never thought would happen to me, just like when traumatic things happen to other people, that’s normally one of the first things that they say. I definitely did not see this coming, and I’m pretty sure that shock was reflected in my expression when I found out in August 2015 that I was a victim of ‘Revenge Porn’.

More shock slapped me in the face when having digged a little deeper, this ‘Revenge Porn’ had been happening since 2012 without my knowledge, and had been using images of me I had naively taken when under the age of 18.

If you’re not sure what the heck ‘Revenge Porn’ is, please let me introduce you to one of the darkest parts of the world wide web’s personality.

‘Revenge Porn’ is the sharing and publicizing of images with the intention to embarrass whoever is in them. Most commonly, it is a former partner that sees fit to share your intimate pictures via social media.

My experience of this was not quite so black and white, as the person who had uploaded these images of me had been a trusted friend for many years after initially having a short term romantic relationship. He had gathered quite a few photos of me, that were given by my silly self, over several of those years. For reasons I still do not know, as I don’t see the point in asking, the images were put on some of the grimiest porn websites I have ever seen, with captions that I do not wish to repeat. He encouraged viewers to share the images and talk about them on forums, which was an unpleasant read to say the least. This prodding inspired somebody else to take my images and create fake social media accounts, portraying me in ways that were untrue and soul-destroying.

You would most logically assume that that was the worst part of the whole thing. Google picture searches finding them on so many different websites. The length of time I hadn’t known about it. Reading some of the view counts on the pictures. But it wasn’t really.

The worst part is happening to me now.

Of course, August was a terrible month; having to report to the police what I had found, attempt to persuade websites to take down the images, report social media accounts and so on. Not knowing what to do to get this resolved was crushing. Not only did I feel like an idiot for taking the pictures in the first place, but I didn’t even have a clue on how to get the whole thing deleted and gone forever.

I remember distinctly driving home from work one day, just thinking if I were to swerve right now, it would all be finished and I wouldn’t feel anything anymore. I wouldn’t have to deal with all this shame.
Unfortunately, those feelings have not completely shaken off, not even after the guy was arrested and charged. When my case officer called me to let me know he had admitted to the offences, she said that she hoped this would bring me some sort of closure. It didn’t really. More than anything, it made it even more real, that this thing had happened to me, and somebody I had trusted was getting in trouble for it.

In October 2015 I went to see the doctor for my anxiety and increased sadness. He was very sympathetic and diagnosed me with depression, giving me leaflets and a prescription to help me feel better. Diagnosing me felt like another slap in the face. How on Earth was it fair for this guy’s actions to cause me to feel this low?

The point of this post is quite a selfish one really. Struggling through this depression; which is a lot harder than I once thought; I haven’t vented much as talking about darker emotions is not something I am forthright about. So I decided to tell whoever wants to read about how ‘Revenge Porn’ actually feels like, and what it does to people:
• worthlessness
• embarrassed
• ashamed
• idiotic
• helpless
• isolated
• betrayed
• self-hatred
• disgusted
• numb.

To not be selfish, here’s some advice that will hopefully help out someone else who is unfortunately experiencing similar circumstances to me.

If you know someone who is going through this, here’s what not to do:
• make jokes about it
• try and turn it into a compliment
• blame them.

(Cannot stress that last point enough. I couldn’t believe how some people I had told made me feel worse by being unsympathetic, as it was obviously my fault for taking the pictures in the first place. I was being appropriately punished for being promiscuous. Yet it seems to be normal for a man to send a dick pic after a three-message exchange to a girl on Tinder. I digress.)

If you know someone who is going through this, here’s what to do:
• offer a listening ear.

If you are going through this, here’s what to do:
• call the police
• make contact with a Revenge Porn Helpline
• confide in a close friend
• blame the person who has done this to you, not yourself
• talk about it, there’s nothing to be ashamed about
• talk to someone who GETS it
• or talk to a trained professional stranger, like the Samaritans.

Hopefully this informs a few people about what ‘Revenge Porn’ actually is and what it can do to someone. Even better if this helps somebody who is going through such horribleness. Perhaps some good will come out of this after-all. TC mark

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