Revenge Porn Culture is Rape Culture (NSFW)

revenge porn culture is rape culture. the woke boys know.

Approximately 1 in 25 Americans will become a victim of Revenge Porn in their lifetime. This crime has become increasingly common, yet society remains largely ignorant of the practice and its devastating- sometimes deadly- consequences. In this area of activism, we see a lot of pushback from not only those committing this act and consuming the Revenge Porn, but also from the rest of society. In any given comment section, it is likely that you will find more people insinuating that we (the activists) are attention-seeking folk with loose morals, offering us helpful nuggets of advice such as “you shouldn’t send nudes if you don’t want them to end up online” than you will find supporting our cause and lifting us up.

This is not an exaggeration. In a story done earlier this year I counted ten comments in response. Eight of them expressed the sentiment that we had it coming, one of them called a victim ugly, and the last comment gave the URL of the website where we had been exposed (the piece had purposefully left that information out to protect our privacy).

A handful of victim-blaming comments , and this is just from today!

We may never get through to the hardcore pervs or prudes. So, this piece is aimed at those folks in the middle- those who don’t understand the dark world of revenge porn and what happens beneath its surface, but have the willingness to learn more about it. I’m talking to the millions of modern Americans who have taken a photo of their own junk but have not yet had the displeasure of viewing said photo on an online message board open for public comment, and the people who love them.

Our reasons for speaking out are not selfish. We have been thrust into the spotlight, naked and on someone else’s terms. Who would choose that for themselves? It is a sexual assault of the digital variety. The Galaxy is under attack by a very Dark Force and as victims of this crime, it is our responsibility to shine a light on this disgusting culture before the bad guys ruin nudes for everyone.

For those who don’t see Revenge Porn as a “big deal”, understand this- Revenge Porn culture is an extension of Rape culture. Of this, we are certain. We see this attitude expressed toward us every day, but one of the most eye-opening examples for me was a message received by Katelyn mere hours after her appearance on Megyn Kelly earlier this summer. (Trigger Warning: Holocaust mention, extreme vulgarity, objectification of women, sexual references, transphobia, sexual violence, use of the R word to suggest intellectual disability… and probably some others.):

Continue reading “Revenge Porn Culture is Rape Culture (NSFW)”

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.

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.**

Change-Makers: BADASS Takes Columbus in Support of Revenge Porn Bill

Yesterday, a group of BADASSes in Ohio travelled to the state capital, Columbus, to give testimony in support of HB497.  HB497 is a bipartisan bill prohibiting the dissemination of intimate images. It was introduced in February 2018 and its sponsors include Rep. John Rogers  and Rep. Nathan Manning.

The day started with brunch provided by  Lynn Wellman and Stop Feeding the Predators. They were great to partner with and provided much-appreciated support to BADASS throughout the day. We are excited about the partnership moving forward. 

We are confident that all of our hard work will pay off and that HB497  will pass this session. After the testimony we gave, it’s hard to see how anyone could oppose this bill.

 

Founder Katelyn Bowden had this to say:

Katelyn Bowden

“Thanks to the very moving testimonies of some very brave BADASSes, it’s a good bet that Ohio HB497 will be past the session quickly. Every testimonial was given with a ferocity, strength, and resiliency that carried more stories than just her own- we woke a lot of people up to the horrific reality that is image abuse. And we are making some long overdue changes to the world.”

It’s an exciting time to be part of this organization as we help to shape future policy and raise awareness of what it means to be a victim of image abuse.  All of us are overwhelmed with pride for our fellow BADASSes who had the courage to speak out yesterday in hopes that others will not have to endure the trauma of non-consensual image abuse.

Katelyn’s Award Ceremony

One highlight of the day was Lynne from DFTP presenting Katelyn with this trophy. Katelyn was set to receive an award from the YWCA for being one of Ohio’s distinguished young women yesterday, but she chose to miss the award ceremony so that she could represent us in Columbus instead! Thank you, Katelyn!!!  

 

Please consider donating to our cause – Let’s change the world together!

A bunch of BADASSes

 

BADASS Aids in Arrest of 3 Pervs

Today is a BIG DAY for BADASS.

These 3 boys have been arrested as a result of a police investigation aided by BADASS. Our founder, Katelyn Bowden was able to identify one of these creeps as a suspect. Click for the full story in The Vindicator, by Jordyn Grzelewski.

The victory is a bittersweet one, as the men are getting off easy considering the severity of the crime they committed. In a comment to the article, Katelyn Bowden, our founder writes:

“This is a step towards justice, but we were unable to charge them with underage pornography thanks to DISCORD and their lack of cooperation with police requests. We really need to pressure discord to be against illegal image sharing- instead of just announcing publicly that they’re against it and doing nothing to actually prevent it.”

Mic drop.

It’s not too late for the victim to get the justice they deserve. All that would be needed is Discord App’s cooperation with law enforcement. Hopefully they do the right thing.

In the meantime, we will celebrate this as a victory for our cause. Let this be a warning for all of those choosing to engage in nonconsensual image abuse- we are coming for you.

BADASS in the News

BADASS has been busy lately- Take a look at where we’ve been showing up.

 

NEWS WEEK, BABY! Click the image to read.

 

Slutty Girl Problems did a story on us, too. Great job, Katelyn!

 

One of our own, Leah Juliett, founder of the March Against Revenge Porn, appeared in an article for Seventeen Magazine! BADASS even got a shout-out (Thanks, Leah!). See what they had to say by clicking on the image below:

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.