Voices of BADASS: Char Hill’s Story

We are happy to share the story of Char Hill next.  

 

Char wants you to know that she was 45 when she took and sent the nudes that were later used to exploit her online. She wants you to know that age does not discriminate, and we are so thankful she made this point because that is one of the greatest myths about revenge porn, image abuse, and/or NCII: People want to think that this is something that only happens to “stupid teenagers” but the fact is, that’s just not true. 

 

Char, a Revenge Porn Victim, and her Dogs
Char’s dogs helped her through the darkest time of her life.
Char was brave enough to share her story for a recent hearing of Ohio HB497. We are proud to have her on our side.  Here is her testimony:

 

(Please note: If you are struggling with thoughts of harming yourself or others, this story may be triggering for you.)

 


It was evening, December 6, 2015 sitting in the comfort of my home when I received a text message of myself, nude. I was horrified. I was deeply humiliated. And emotionally damaged.
It was a forwarded image meant for shock value from my ex-boyfriend’s buddy. My ex was sending my photo without my consent to his friends, his coworkers, his basketball team and a friend of mine who is also a pastor.

 

My ex threatened that he was going to paper the vehicles in my church parking lot with my nude image. I had to tell the church and meet with the security team in which they kept a heavy look out. I was mortified. I immediately went to the police and was treated like it was my fault. I was told there was nothing they could do. A few attorneys along with Marion City prosecutor said “I know these 2 men are pigs, but there is no law against distributing nude photos in the state of Ohio”.

 

 

I was sick to my stomach. I was persistent to be heard and went back to the police station several times. I just so happened to get connected with a female officer who took me seriously. Sadly, the only retribution I could sustain was a telecommunications charge and a civil protection order. Very little punishment for sending me into a horrifying downward spiral into a mental health relapse hell.

 

I endured a severe recurrent episode of Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. With ongoing (but without current intent) suicidal tendencies. I knew I had to get help when the thought of death was a peaceful thought, a release, a sigh of letting go. Being with Jesus sounded immensely more comforting than staying here with worldly people.

 

My urge to flight outweighed my fighting capabilities. I’m too exhausted to continue to fight. I checked myself into partial hospitalization where I spent over 4 months trying to make sense of it all. During my 4 month stint at Marion General Hospital Partial Hospitalization Program I endured what I describe as an “out of body”relapse. I had made it through the program and was now in relapse prevention. I was dealing with months of ongoing court issues that pertained to pressing criminal charges on the offender.

 

was triggered every time I had a court appearance, whether the perpetrator was present or not, or meeting with any agency that was helping me pursue justice. I walked in to relapse prevention somber, empty-handed, and feeling depleted.

 

With tears running down my face, I told the counselors someone was going to die. Either me, the coward of a man who did this to me, or both. My body was sitting in the chair but the words coming out of my mouth were that of a stranger and inaudible. I had so much confusion and noise in my head.
I can see the counselors looking at each other with great concern but I didn’t understand why. What was I saying that was so fearful? I vaguely remember them whispering to me if I was willing to surrender my weapon to someone trustworthy that would safely lock it away from me.

 

Somewhere between protecting myself and my household, became a very scary idealization of permanently ending the nightmare I was living. I am very thankful I was in a safe place with trained professionals to defuse a potentially horrific situation and immediately took appropriate action which placed me back into PHP for another month.

 

This heinous act of Revenge Porn has to stop. These monsters need to be held accountable for their actions. My photo was taken out of trust, loyalty and love. I am a beautiful woman inside and out. I should not be shamed for feeling attractive or being sexual. And it is not ok to share my intimate photo without my consent, period

 

 

Well said, Char.

 

As you can see from her story, Revenge Porn is something that affected every facet of her life. It’s important to take this crime seriously as the consequences of this act can be devastating to victims and their families. We are glad that Char got help when she did and she is brave for being open and sharing what happened surrounding her mental health, as talking about it is so often stigmatized.

 

We asked her to delve deeper into the mental health side of things that she wrote about in her testimony, in hopes that it may help someone else who is struggling with thoughts of suicide or harming others. Read on if you are interested, but please know that the following passage may be triggering for some:

 

I’ve struggled since my late teens with Major Depression Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and in my mid 20’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A lot of people would never know this about me because I mask very well! I’m bubbly, cheerful, silly and appear to be happy. 

It took me years to grow into my voice, and now that I have, I will not be quiet! With recent events of a heinous act of revenge pornography by someone I trusted and loved, I slowly fell into a horrifying mental health relapse. I have had a severe recurrent episode of depression, anxiety and PTSD with ongoing (but without current intent) suicidal tendencies.

This battle is not meant to be fought alone! With hopes to save lives and educate people- the most important thing you can do is tell someone how you are feeling! This persons betrayal of loyalty sent me into a horrifying downward spiral, into a mental health relapse hell.

I knew I had to reach out but I didn’t want to bother or worry my loved ones. I am thankful for these two friends for their unbiased support in this particular situation. But after months passed, I was still in a very dark place. PTSD can occur at the time of trauma or months, even years, after the trauma occurs. Trauma is very different to every individual- don’t judge. PTSD is not “what’s wrong with me” it’s “what happened to me”.

I knew I had to get help when the thought of death was a peaceful thought, a release, a “sigh” of letting go. Being with Jesus sounded immensely more comforting than staying here with worldly people. I can remember being on a flight, looking out the window & seeing the most angelic pathway of clouds that would lead me to a lovely eternity to heaven. I closed my eyes, leaned my seat back, and was at total peace with pleading God to please take this jet down. And when we landed being so very disappointed because I had to “go on” and put on my fake smile.

Let’s get back to this, I want to take a moment to explain what “fight or flight” means to me…

Over the last year I’ve been to Florida twice, Atlanta, Ft. Wayne, Kentucky, Las Vegas and Seattle. Sounds like a wonderful year of vacationing doesn’t it? What it really meant was escaping my demons, chaos, confusion and pain. Spending money I shouldn’t have with no worries. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great times and I’m very blessed to have friends and family help to get me away, distract me from my turmoil. But I also had unrealistic thoughts and plans as to where else I could escape to and not tell anyone.

Maybe check in with loved ones occasionally.

I would joke about loading up my two beloved German Shepherds and just drive until I ran out of funds and couldn’t drive anymore. I was certain we could live under a pier by the ocean (my only concern was how much I do not like fish), or in the wilderness, or for some reason… San Antonio stuck in my mind. I would tell people this and laugh but on the inside it was very real to me. The urge to “Flight” outweighed my “Fighting” capabilities. I’m too exhausted to continue to fight…

Back to the suicidal planning… The more places I went, the stronger my urges became. I’m not sure why. I guess because all these beautiful places that God created seemed so tranquil. While my friends and family were admiring wonderful clay-colored canyons, and majestic waterfalls, and the thickest green forests and breathtaking mountains, I was soaking in the serene Peace of knowing where I could drive back to and miss a winding curve into a sunlit canyon or freely fall into a fierce current of a violent waterfall. I didn’t want my loved ones to know my death was intentional. I hid my tears. Do you know how hard it is to choke back a melt down? I’m mastering that emotion, too.

After my last “vacation” I returned home and checked myself into Marion General Hospital Partial Hospitalization Program where I spent 5 months trying to make sense of it all.

Now comes the stigma…Ugh!! I keep rehashing why is my mental health any different than someone famous? They are well known, talented, wealthy, and admired. It’s such a shame, and considered a waste of talent if a star commits suicide. So why does society look down on the “average Joe”? I am a giver, a great mother of two amazing sons, I am a server for Jesus, I am loved, I cherish my family and friends, I am humble and I matter too! I’m not “crazy” or “oh she’s bi-polar”. Stop it! I’ve been through some stuff. I am wired differently.

My mind is overloaded and racing rampant. I need compassion and understanding. Just like you may have a broken bone, a broken leg. You can’t walk, you need help to get up. I need help to get up differently than you. Are you ashamed of your broken leg? I am not ashamed of my brokenness. Treatment plans are not that different. You go to physical therapy and tell them your difficulties, you will learn how to cope with your diagnosis, your struggles, and may need medication for pain, balance, infections, etc..I go to counseling, I give my symptoms, I tell my hurts. I may need medication to cope and manage just like you. We need to be brave and Stomp out the Stigma…

I mentioned earlier that I was asked to surrender my weapon to someone trustworthy who would safely lock it away from me. You see, for months I slept with a 9mm under my pillow, pepper spray under the other pillow and a steel bar at arm’s length placed under my bed.

It became surprisingly comfortable sleeping with a gun under my head. But somewhere between protecting myself and my household, became a very scary idealization of permanently ending the nightmare I was living. I am thankful God was with me that afternoon, as He is everyday, and placed me in a safe place with trained professionals to defuse a potentially horrific situation and immediately took appropriate action which placed me back into PHP for another month.

I’m not where I want to be but thank God I’m not where I was! I thank God for giving me grace and mercy and saving me from myself. For carrying me when I couldn’t stand, for the discernment to get to the hospital. I’m learning to set boundaries, recognizing my triggers and avoid them if possible, to run like hell when I see or feel a “red flag”, and give myself permission to slow down and say no and take “me” time. This is not an easy task for me. I’m educating myself and loved ones on my diagnosis. I’m trying to eat healthier (yea right lol), exercise, and use coping skills. I’ve become very active in NAMI. They have helped me be accountable in maintaining my mental health in which I am passionate about advocating and educating.

I have a safety plan in place. I promise not to mask and tell the truth when I’m struggling. Most importantly I promise to never break the hearts of my sons, my mother. my sisters, my brother, my grandmother, and the rest of my family and friends and my God  For I am the daughter of the most high King .

 

If you are considering suicide, help is available.  Call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone.

 

If you are in a life-threatening emergency or are an immediate danger to others, please call 911.

How the ‘Fappening’ Changed the Way We View Victims of Revenge Porn

How the Fappening Changed the way we view revenge porn

By now, we’ve all heard of “the fappening”, whether you know it by its Internet given nickname or not- several times in the past few years, hackers gained access to several celebrities Apple accounts, and publicly posted their private nude photos. Victims ranged from huge stars like Jennifer Lawrence and athletes like Hope Solo, to some obscure reality tv stars and models.

For many people, this was their first foray into the world of revenge porn- it brought a global spotlight to a practice that had, previously, been full of victim blaming and shame. When it happened to so many celebrities, it was like the world finally said “ok, now we are going to do something about this!”. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Vanessa Hudgens was forced to issue a PUBLIC APOLOGY for having her nudes leaked without consent, so the fact that people were finally starting to see the practice as abhorrent is a pretty big step.

The perpetrator behind The Fappening was arrested, however, evidence of his crimes is still passed around on hundreds of websites, dozens of forums. Many people downloaded the images and videos, and they’re uploaded to different forums and sites every day, victimizing the subject over and over again. And thats just for those specific celebrity  pictures- this happens to people across the world on a daily basis, knowing that at any given moment, countless people are seeing them naked without their consent. It’s maddening.

We are asked every day how people can be BADASS allies, outside of donating (seriously though, please donate- we make no money off of this, everything is put toward helping victims, and we help dozens everyday) and the easiest answer is this: don’t participate in culture that leads to things like the fappening. Don’t look up leaked nude images of celebrities or regular people, no matter how tempted you may be to do so! Call out others on problematic behavior- if your friend says to check out this nude that so and so sent him, tell him no, and ask him to delete it. Speak out against behaviors that victimize others, and believe victims when they tell you what they’ve been through. Make yourself a safe person to talk about these things with, and don’t break peoples trust by sharing what was said. These are things that everyone can do to fight back against revenge porn.

To the victims of the Fappening- we are sorry that this happened to you. To the countless victims of image abuse around the world- you are not alone, and you can join the BADASS army to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

To people like Vanessa Hudgens, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Catherine Bosley, and the thousands of others that went through this before the world understood what revenge porn was and how awful it is: I cannot express my condolences for how you were treated as a victim. What happened to you was not okay, and the way you were treated as the VICTIM of a crime is mind blowing. Thank you for handling your situation with grace and holding your head high, and thank you for setting an example for future victims. No one can fix what has been done to you, but know that what you went through was not in vain, because now society is finally ready to start fighting.

-Katelyn Bowden, CEO of BADASS

Voices of BADASS: Lora J’s Story

We are beginning a new series on the blog!

Each week we will be highlighting a story or two from our members- the victims of image abuse and their allies. It is incredibly healing to be able to speak out about what has happened to you, and I am happy to facilitate that. Many of the stories you will read here have not been shared publicly before. My hope is that others may hear our stories and not be so quick to judge us for what has happened. As you will realize soon enough, this can happen to anyone.

This passage was written by Lora J, a victim of nonconsensual image abuse, and an incredibly powerful and BADASS woman.

In 2008, I married who I thought was someone I would spend the rest of my life with. Shortly thereafter, I realized I had made an incredible mistake. He started the manipulation, and the coercion. He would offer to “pay me” to take our daughter and go shopping or do anything but be at home so he could play video games. He started to blame me for things that weren’t my fault.

One year after we got married, he cheated on me and LIED to me about it. When I confronted him he had begged and begged me to not leave. I suggested that we separate for a little while and see where things went. He was not having it. He started guilt tripping me. I stayed. The abuse got worse. He started manipulating me into taking photos “for” him, he always said. He coerced me and told me things like, “you should do this for for me because I’m your husband” or “you should WANT to have sex with your husband.” I didn’t though. I didn’t love him, and I stayed because of our daughter. But consent didn’t matter. Each and every single time I told him no, but he would never take no for an answer and eventually coerced me into doing the things HE wanted me to do, regardless of how I felt.

He would call me a “whore” and a “cunt” and even said I was worthless. No matter what I did or tried to do, I was always called names. He broke my computers, my possessions my dad gave me that can’t be replaced, and even destroyed some of my daughter’s toys during his fits of rage. Sometimes these excuses were because “supper wasn’t ready when he got home” or “the dishes weren’t done.” He would call my daughter names because she made a mistake, forgot something or misplaced something. If anyone dare bother him, he would snap.

Finally, something inside of me cracked because I knew that if I didn’t leave and LEAVE SOON that someone was going to end up physically injured. I told my daughter we would escape this horror, and that our lives would be better because we deserved better.

Escaping a narcissist is no easy task. No matter how much he guilt tripped, begged, pleaded, blew up my phone, or cried… I PERSISTED. When I left, we had agreed that any of the photos he took of myself in an intimate setting would be deleted. (I repeat-, none of these I WILLINGLY took. ALL OF THEM were acquired via coercion and manipulation.) I stood my ground and I followed through with the separation and the divorce.

Throughout the divorce hearing, the judge asked how we wanted custody arranged, and whether child support should be set up. I denied child support, I denied a custody arrangement. I wanted out of my divorce NOW. I wanted nothing more than to be free of him. Finally our divorce was finalized November 2014. I moved on and moved away. I thought things were amicable and that we could co-parent successfully. I was wrong.

Fast forward to May 2016, I was browsing the list of blocked accounts on my twitter account and I chose to view his account. There were tweets upon tweets of these photos he AGREED to delete upon our separation and tweets with links to other websites. I started shaking. The first thing I did was tell my husband, and then we started googling. This username linked to his ACTUAL twitter account provided countless websites with all of these photos that he had agreed to delete two years prior. I contacted authorities- it went NOWHERE. My family and I moved, and then I dropped out of my college classes.

I contacted Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and they assigned me a couple attorneys through K&L Gates Law Firm. Because there was no law in place, authorities couldn’t act on anything. I documented everything, and my wonderful attorneys issued a cease and desist to my ex and asked for him to sign over copyright in September 2016. He obliged. Remember this, this is important. They then started issuing DMCA takedowns to all the websites that we could locate. I thought this was taken care of, that he was scared and it would go away and never happen again.

Summer 2017, I casually start running the username through google search again. Again, I find numerous websites with several photos. Again, I document everything. Again, I contact the authorities. This time, there IS a law in place. Still… nothing gets done. Finally.. I contact the county attorney and the sheriff. Together they decide to take on the case and open an investigation. They initiated a search warrant, they scoured his phone and 6 months later they told me his phone was clean and they couldn’t press charges. They didn’t say it wasn’t him, they said they couldn’t find anything on his phone to link it to him. So, they return his phone.

Now by now you would THINK a person would get the hint. We’re into May 2018. Again… search turns up results AS RECENT AS APRIL AND MAY 20 2018! Everything is documented, and the authorities are called. However, NOW they are telling me because the website isn’t responding they are going to do nothing.

WHEN WILL SOMEONE LISTEN TO ME? He is going to continue doing this until he is criminalized for doing this. He is hurting myself, and my family. I can guarantee I am not the only woman that he’s done this to, but the others aren’t aware. This person is a sexual predator and he is not going to stop until someone DOES SOMETHING. This is YEAR FOUR and counting. He takes ZERO accountability for his actions. He thinks he’s done nothing wrong. He thinks he is getting away with it. He has told me “it’s in the past and I’ve changed” so I guess that means everything that’s ever happened to me BECAUSE of him just magically vanishes. How many people will he victimize? How many families will he hurt or destroy?

I am a victim of non-consensual image sharing (commonly referred to as revenge porn). I will fiercely stand up for my truth. I am 1 in 25.