How Catherine Bosley Inspired BADASS

Growing up in Youngstown, I had the privilege of seeing Catherine Bosley deliver the news on television- and, because my mom was her hairdresser, I got to know her as a person and the amazing human being that she is.

When I was 19 (showing my age here), I distinctly remember when the video of her, participating in a wet t-shirt contest, came out. It was around the same time that the Janet Jackson halftime show debacle happened, and it was the first time I had thought to myself “it’s BS that these women are being punished for having bodies, and daring to show them off. This isn’t fair.” Catherine was young, beautiful, and excellent at her job- and I was seeing, for the first time, how cruel the world can be to women who possess those attributes.
Following Catherine’s story, and her ability to fight back with both grace and dignity, is what, I believe, planted the seeds for BADASS. She had been unfairly maligned for doing something that harmed no one, and she fought back against one of the largest pornographic distributors in the world for publishing her images – and WON. She didn’t allow this to ruin her life, in fact- she turned that trauma into something bigger and more meaningful, and came out of the storm stronger for it.

When my pictures were shared, i channeled Catherine. I said to myself, if she could handle this on such a national level, I could get through this. When the idea for BADASS was nothing more than an inkling, I called Catherine for inspiration. To this day, she is someone I look up to for inspiration, and I’m extremely lucky to have her in my life as both a friend and mentor.

Please, watch her TEDtalk, and hear her story. It’s a great one, and hopefully it inspires you to do big things, as Catherine has inspired me.

-Katelyn

BADASS- Year in Review

I sincerely hope all of our friends and allies had a happy holiday, and it’s time for our first annual “year in review”! As I sit and reflect on all of the amazing events, people, and opportunities 2018 has brought us, I only have one word to describe this past year- BADASS!

At the start of 2018, our little Facebook group had around 250 members- all victims of image abuse or trusted allies. In January and February, it took off, growing to 700 then 800, and in April, we broke the 1k mark. It’s continued to grow steadily since, and in the Facebook group alone, we have over 1600 victims of image abuse, raising their voices to create a change. And that’s just Facebook- there are BADASSes on twitter, Instagram, Reddit, tumblr, and a few other platforms. We are everywhere- 45 states, 13 countries, every gender, race, socioeconomic status, sexuality… as we knew, image abuse doesn’t have a label, and now we have the stats to back that up.
In 2018, we unveiled the WK program, a tool for victims to get notifications if their images appear on sites frequently used to share nudes without consent. We offer the basic service for free to BADASS members, and only charge $5 a month for the text message notification system. It’s like google alerts, but for image abuse. We also still have our “shreker”, though it’s being modified and retargeted. We hope to make any idiot who decides to run a website dedicated to NCP regret their decision, if only for the headaches having to clean up the mess we make.
2018 was an amazing year for BADASS publicity- we worked hard to find platforms to share our stories, and spread the word that resources are available for image abuse victims. I (Katelyn) went on Megan Kelly today to talk about BADASS, and was featured in several other national outlets with my cohorts Rachel Lamp, Kate Venable, Kelsey Bressler, and Elizabeth Ann. Mia Landsem has been making headlines in Norway with her work infiltrating and shutting down discord servers dedicated to NCP. Shainee Chalk has been telling her story in Canada, and advocating for BADASS up north. Several BADASSes have been speaking to the press in the UK, with Zoe Zozza coming forward with her experience involving the band “Moose Blood”, which resulted in them losing their spot on tour with Good Charlotte. BADASSes are raising their voices all over the world, and the media is catching on.
We had several big wins this year with legislation, working to bring a “revenge porn” bill to Ohio, and having it signed into law just a few days ago. Noelle Martin, BADASS-down-under, successfully completed a campaign to bring NCP laws to Western Australia. We are working with CCRI to help make the current laws in the US more enforceable, and are eyeing Montana and New York for our next legislative projects. We are still working on getting a federal bill introduced and in place, and I sincerely hope that when I write 2019s look back, I’m able to say that we accomplished that.
In June, we had a successful March Against Revenge porn in Pittsburgh, with the help of Leah Juliett and Belinda Berry, and we are excited to start planning another march next year in Cleveland. Details on that coming soon!
We had several notable events this year- from the BADASS brewhaha in youngstown, to “bowling, bands and BADASSes” in Cleveland. Both events will be happening again, and we were excited to see large numbers for both! Turns out, BADASSes know how to party!
In April, we had a very exciting surprise- anonib had been shut down, thanks to the the Politie in Netherlands. It was a huge relief to the thousands of us who had appeared on the site without our permission, and victims worldwide were celebrating the shuttering of this awful site! New ones have stepped up to replace that scourge on the internet, but haven’t reached the success or infamy as anonib, and we don’t foresee them ever getting to that point. The clear internet is safer thanks to everyone involved with deleting that site.
In the beginning of the year, we acquired our 501c3 nonprofit status, which allowed us to award tax write offs for donations, and apply for grants. We still haven’t found regular funding, and are relying on donations for our organizations survival, so if you have the ability, please further our mission by making a donation to https://www.gofundme.com/BADASSarmy

We can’t count how many non consensual images and videos we removed from the internet in 2018, but we estimate that it’s somewhere in the 5 figure range. That’s a lot less humiliation and exposure for victims, as well as a lot of relief and weight lifted.
We aided in dozens of arrests for NCP, telecommunications harassment, stalking, and child pornography, and have several very large cases awaiting completion. We continue to aid law enforcement in the collection of evidence and prosecution of internet sex crimes, and are working to give the police and investigators the tools and knowledge they need to ensure justice for those experiencing NCP.
In 2018, we began partnering with social media platforms and individual sites to help them keep their platforms free of image abuse. We’ve shared our findings, our experiences, and our ideas to several large social media platforms, and helped them reinforce and refine the protections they have in place to prevent NCP. We plan to continue this project, and gain the support and partnership of both social media giants and consensual pornography sites (hey pornhub, Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube- call us!)
2018 was pretty BADASS, by anyones definition. The growth our organization has seen is tremendous, but meager compared to the growth of each individual BADASS. The empowerment, lessons, and support we’ve seen this past year have ignited our passion, and motivated us to change to world- or at least, the internet.
And we have a feeling that 2019 will be even better, and more BADASS! We hope all of our friends and allies have a happy and safe new year, and stay tuned, because we are declaring right now that 2019 will be the “year of the BADASS!”

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

Megyn Kelly Today – Katelyn Gets a Word In

“I always tell women- be very careful. Be very careful you know, with the naked selfies and sending them…

“Be very careful about sending the naked selfies. Even a bikini is sexy too, and in some cases, sexier!! It’s not your fault, but just a word to the wise: be smart and don’t do it”.

Those quotes are how Megyn Kelly opened and ended her interview with me regarding the entire movement started by BADASS to eradicate revenge porn. Sure, in between those quotes, we were able to get the word out about our mission and letting victims know there is a resource available for this, but it was sandwiched between two very questionable statements that go against what we stand for as an organization.

Please don’t get me wrong- I was incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to speak on such a large platform at all, and I’m thankful that Megyn Kelly was willing to bring me on air to share my story- but between the victim blaming and the focus on my personal victimization, I was barely able to talk about how I, and so many others, rose above our experiences to start a movement that has the potential to change the world (or at least, the internet). Megyn’s comments weren’t meant to be victim blaming, and I’m sure she didn’t intend them to be, and we hear problematic statements like that frequently in our work- but once someone learns more about image abuse and how it works, they usually feel very differently. Megyn’s statements were made out of innocence- she is a very educated and smart woman, however, she just hasn’t learned much about the topic of Revenge Porn, which is something we hope to change by speaking out.

When I heard I would be appearing on Megyn Kelly, I started planning how to make the best use of my short time on a nationwide platform. I wanted to talk about how awful the term “Revenge Porn” is- it implies that the victim did something to deserve revenge, and “porn” describes it as purposely sexual and implying consent. I wanted to start changing the conversation towards using “Image Abuse”, because it covers the variety of crimes we see with our victims- hidden cameras, upskirt images, photoshopped pictures, deepfakes, and, yes, photos posted by a jilted ex. I wanted to start changing the way people view “Revenge Porn” and see it for the violation that it is.

I wanted to urge people to write to their lawmakers in every state, to ask them to introduce a bill banning Image Abuse, or amend the ones they currently have to make them more enforceable. I thought with Megyn Kelly’s legal background, she would love the chance to talk about how an “intent to harm” clause is problematic, and get her input on how bills should be worded to avoid violating the first amendment. I know that Mary Anne Franks would be the BEST choice to help explain how that works, but perhaps Megyn Kelly could bring that argument to national attention.

I wanted to tell her about the other amazing activists working to end revenge porn on a global scale- about Leah Juliett, who not only has raised awareness with their March Against Revenge Porn organization, but also works as an ambassador and advocate for GLAAD, educating people on the rising trend of using the internet to shame marginalized populations, while also fighting for trans rights and for trans voices to be heard. Or about Catherine Bosley, a news anchor who experienced image abuse before the term Revenge Porn was even a thing, and who successfully sued hustler for printing her image without permission. She had been fired from her position in Youngstown Ohio due to the leak, only to rise above and get a job on camera in a bigger, better market. Now, she is working to share her story, and inspire so many others to rise above the victimization of image abuse.

I didn’t really want to talk about my own personal victimization in any sort of detail- that’s not as important to me as telling the other stories that need heard. The 15 year old who was blackmailed with photoshopped pictures, until she finally gave into her blackmailers demands and stripped on camera, while crying, for the purpose of him uploading the video to every chan site that would let him. The woman who took pictures at 19 for a college boyfriend, only to have them sent to everyone she knew while she was married and pregnant ten years later.  The woman in Iowa whose husband had put multiple hidden cameras in her home, who didn’t realize she had even been being filmed until she filed for divorce and found her pictures, hundreds of them, scattered across the internet. I wanted to tell their stories, and talk about how they overcame their victimization and are fighting to ensure that no one experiences what they did. I never wanted a national platform so I could throw a pity party- I wanted to show the world how strong and powerful the human spirit is, and how those people refused to be reduced to a series of pictures online, and instead, used that pain productively. My story isn’t what’s important- what matters is what we’ve accomplished with that story.

Since starting BADASS less than a year ago, we’ve gotten thousands of images removed from websites that are dedicated to image abuse. We’ve assisted police and victims in cases that resulted in arrests, and we help LEOs and investigators learn how to navigate the websites, collect usable evidence, and we provide victim support in every step they must go through to get justice. We’ve talked to people who have gone through this and felt hopeless and suicidal, and made them feel empowered and gave them reasons to keep going. We’ve made over a thousand people know that they aren’t alone in their pain, and we’ve educated countless people on various aspects of image abuse. We are developing an educational program for teens that covers more than just sharing nudes- we want to teach them about how to set boundaries, about consent, and how to break up and respect your partner. We’ve connected to tech giants to help them keep non-consensual images off of their platforms, and work with developers to create programs to prevent images from being shared, as well as programs for victims and law enforcement to find and remove photos while collecting evidence.

Antigone Davis, the head of global safety for Facebook (and one of my personal heroes) said that we are “activists that speak engineer”, and i thought that was not only fitting, but one of the highest compliments I could hear. We aren’t just a “support group”  or an organization dedicated to spreading awareness by exploiting their stories,-we are working together and creating so many changes to the evilness of online exploitation.

Basically, we do a lot. But you know what we don’t do? Slut shame. Victim blame. Tell victims that it’s their fault for taking the images in the first place. We don’t believe that there should be shame in sex, nor should we be ashamed of our bodies. To us, this is a consent issue- a human rights issue. We believe that the problem doesn’t lie in the pictures themselves, but in their use as a weapon to shame and harm us. We support the right of nude models and sex workers to not have their work pirated on sites they didn’t consent to host their work. We support teens who were coerced into sending a nude to someone who they thought really liked them.

And we do all of that at no cost to the victim- Our “staff”, consisting of me (Katelyn Bowden, CEO and HBIC), my cofounder and COO, Belinda Berry, our legal aid and Board President, Kate Venable, CSO and tech guru, Rachel Lamp- along with countless untitled volunteers- work tirelessly to juggle all the needs of our organization, as well as helping victims on a personal level, are all unpaid- we have no funding outside of donations, and we don’t feel it’s right to charge victims to help fix what someone else did to them**. I don’t know of any other organizations run purely by volunteers that are accomplishing nearly as much as BADASS is, and that’s something that deserves attention.

These are the things I wanted to talk to Megyn kelly about, and instead, I got a few words in about a cause I’m extremely passionate about, sandwiched between problematic statements.

If I’m ever given a national platform again (which, after publishing this blog post, is questionable, but i felt this was so necessary), I hope to cover these topics and more. I hope that someone out there wants to give us an opportunity to truly start a conversation about the work that needs to be done to end revenge porn/image abuse.

Because we know, no matter how careful you are- no matter how “smart” you are, this can happen to anyone. And we think people ought to know that.

Watch the full video here.

**At BADASS we believe in offering support at minimal or no cost to victims. Our goal is to teach victims how to empower and advocate for themselves so that they can take hold of their story. The nature of image abuse allows those who have been exposed to be revictimized. By providing the steps to remove content it aims to empower and remove that helpless feeling that often comes with this type of abuse. While we pride ourselves on offering services for free, we do respect and understand the need for services, especially legal services, to charge. By being a free resource, we can get people immediate help by eliminating that as a barrier.**

Introducing a Revenge Porn Law in Ohio

We have worked with Senator Joe Schiavone to introduce a bill criminalizing revenge porn in the state of Ohio. It would make the crime a misdemeanor, and include protections for victims, as well as the possibility of civil actions against the posters. We are working hard to see this bill come to fruition, and we hope to do this in all states that currently have no revenge porn laws on the ballot.

 

Camaraderie Through Tragedy

Since starting this group a month ago, I’ve witnessed the most beautiful transformations. Women who had been exposed for years, shy and scared, became strong when they discovered that they weren’t as alone and powerless as they thought. Women who were staunchly anti-feminist embraced the empowerment that comes with surrounding yourself with other strong women. We have found a comraderie in our brokenness, and built friendship from a platform of pain. When we talk about “GIRL POWER”, it doesn’t sound like a cheesy Spice World movie bit. We know true girl power, because we see the damaged build each other up as they heal.

We see the 40 year old mom from Ohio discuss trust issues to the 17 year old tumblr Girl from the U.K.- to most, they have nothing in common, but they’ve both been victimized the same way, and there is a bond in shared trauma that is hard to explain. When the battered wife from Kentucky comforts the Canadian woman who was called “fat” on the message boards (*i don’t even KNOW why this hurts me so bad. These guys are obviously scumbags.), you can’t deny the power within womanhood. The power to heal ourselves in the process of helping others.

Within our ever growing group, we have Lawyers, Doctors, Stay-at-Home moms, and Dominatrixes. We have bartenders and news anchor and authors and actresses and retail workers and teachers. We have men (yes, we accept men, on a  very limited basis), women, and non-binary folk as well. Gay people, straight people, white people, black people, brown people, rich, poor, republican, democrat, addict, counselor, single moms, grandmothers…. the only thing we have in common is that we were exposed, without our permission, for men to objectify, sexualize, and judge.

And witnessing everyday, these women using one another’s broken parts to fix themselves, and healing and growing and discovering- it’s by far more beautiful than anything that could be found on one of the websites featuring our bodies.

And that’s what these men fail to understand- they thought they had exposed us, hurt us, or maybe they just wanted to have power over us. But our beauty in womanhood lies not with our breasts or bottoms, the true beauty in womanhood is strength. Resiliency. And the fires and destruction left in her path when she decides to fight back. And maybe, because of what we are doing, the internet will finally be able to see that destruction instead of just focusing on her naked body.

 

Help Us Stop AnonIB

https://www.gofundme.com/help-us-to-shut-down-anonib

AnonIB is an anonymous image hosting site, where they actively encourage posting of “wins”- slang for nude photos of women without their permission. Although they don’t outright say they allow underage photos posted to their sites, the banner at the top of every page features preteens in various states of undress, and they are slow to remove photos of women who were as young as 13 when the photos were taken.

The photos are acquired through a variety of ways: sometimes they were shared with a trusted partner. Sometimes they are hacked from iCloud accounts or Facebook messages. They’ve also been acquired through catfishing, theft, or even taken while the subject has no idea she’s being photographed. The comments attached to the photos shame the victim- Calling her names, or revealing her contact information, links to social media accounts or where she works. It creates a very serious danger for the victim, and needs to be stopped.

We are working to hire a lawyer to file a federal class action lawsuit against anonIB and all associated parties on behalf of the victims. Since the website is hosted overseas, Its a complicated court battle, but with the amount of victims and evidence we have compiled, we believe it is possible. There has never been a group like ours before, not in size nor in determination. In little over a month, we have grown to over 300 victims, from the US, Canada, the U.K. And Australia. We are raising our voices to protest this injustice, but we need your help. As Allies, you can send a clear message that this is unacceptable. Thank you!