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.