Voices of BADASS: Rachel Lamp

My name is Rachel and this is my story.

For a long time, I did not have a voice. Now that I have one, it’s thrilling. A voice that is heard, one that makes a difference. The highs and lows of being a public activist can be addicting at times. By the time you read this, you’ll probably have heard my story multiple times. Its fresh, its new, but I’ve seen the effects of stories dying. Activists and victims are built up and then soon forgotten. The media seeks tragedy moving from one target to the next giving them the attention they deserve but here I still sit in my basement typing for a blog, hardly making ends meet. This is the reality for every nonprofit staff I know, they love to pedal the story but not support the cause.

I am an advocate, and activist, a loud mouth, a millennial, a peace keeper, a door mat, a victim of revenge porn. Victim… I forget that sometimes. I force myself to fly too close to the flame of revenge porn. The bees nest of abusers who degrade their prey to nothing more than body parts and worthiness in the form of trading. More recently I work with the police to identify these bodies to put a name to the image and then identify their age. I cope with this by calling it a game of “over/under” but don’t let that fool you, it takes everything from me. 4 hours of identifying, straining my brain to please remember… remember, “You saw her before, you went to high school with her! Was she an underclassman? Is she married? Good God, what’s her name?” Sometimes I fail, well a lot of times I do, and that’s worse than the experience all together. The nameless faces sometimes haunt me. It’s fucking horrible, 0/10 – do not recommend.

Now back to me and how I got here. About 6+ years ago I was at my all-time lowest point. My mom had died 4 months prior and if anyone has lost their mom at 20 years old, you know that it destroys you. I had also been drugged and sexually assaulted and a few “complications” came about because of this. It was simply, a mess. I was grieving with every cell in my body and had just moved back to Ohio from Pittsburgh where I was content and happier than I had ever been. And then I started receiving Facebook messages from acquaintances. I’ve always been wary of links from people I didn’t know so I ignored them. The messages went something like, “your nude photos were posted online click here to view,” with a link. Sketchy, right? I continued to receive more messages like that along with a lot of crude random messages from men until I received one from someone I figured I could genuinely trust. I remember the whole scene, I was sitting at the dinner table with my fiancé Ty and my step father. It was late November and we still had pumpkins. I opened the link and followed it to find my teenage self, from years before, staring back at me. I started to shake head to toe with anger or maybe it was fear. I would continue to shake the entire night. I showed my fiancé and he was speechless. I told my step dad about it and he made a few calls to the ex I had sent it to and it wasn’t him. (That’s a more complicated story for another time.) I wanted to run, scream, cry, fight… anything. But, I was not prepared for my step dad to attempt to calm me down by telling me, “Keep your head down, don’t draw attention to yourself,” “It will go away.” I decided then to go outside with a sledge hammer and smash all the pumpkins and gourds we had. It felt good but it wasn’t enough.

A few months and sleepless nights later and GUESS WHAT DAD they didn’t fucking go away. Glares at screen. I became obsessed, watching the conversations, following all the links, clicking screen names, collecting emails, reaching out to other victims… and being met by women who wanted nothing to do with my misplaced anger and internal rebellion. ALL THE ANGST. But I kept my head down. I knew that something had happened to me and it was bad but I didn’t have name for it. Searching on google to find any information showed minimal results other than more links to revenge porn and a few Cosmo articles about “the fappening” (the crude title given to the massive celebrity iCloud hack) if I was lucky.

Shout out to Cosmo for making me feel semi-normal in my loneliness.

One year later and revenge porn was a fucking epidemic. I didn’t know a single woman my age who was not on the site or others and I trusted NO ONE. I found myself thinking about fighting any man who graced me with a lingering glance. *I should note that I’ve never fought anyone, I dropped out of karate because I would cry when my mom would flip me but that feeling where, if you could shoot fire out of your eyes and watch them burn – you would. That was me. I spent more time than ever searching the boards because they were asking for more every day – Of me! The text read “I wish whoever said they have more of Rachel L, they would post them.” And omg the praise they would all give each other… there’s something interesting about the fucked-up culture of straight men who help each get off with stolen images of mostly minors. I’m not therapist but I think you should all seek some help. Around this time, I decided to help one of my classmates in college by letting her know she was just posted and she went. off. She went straight to one of our teachers and he helped her remove them. I was shocked that they could be removed and wanted to ask for his help as well but kept to myself. He contacted me later that night to inform me of my photos and then removed them for me. He must have reached out to some of the other local women because after that it spread through Facebook like wild fire. (Thank goodness, my photos were taken down by then). I’d report the links but nothing happened and messaged a few of the girls sharing it in outrage trying to explain that I got where they were coming from but they were also exposing a lot of women. They didn’t care, they were mad, I can understand that feeling.

FREEDOM – I was free! Free! I would check the sites and there would be more requests and new images but it wasn’t me. But, with revenge porn, freedom is just borrowed time. Borrowed time from the other women who were the focus of the week. One night, I received a message from an ex classmate from high school, whom I saw frequently at his popular place of work. He told me of a new site and that I had been posted, blah blah blah, same song and dance. But this time they had taken photos from my social media of me in a bathing suit and editing my dead mother out of them! – A new low that I didn’t think could exist. And let me tell you, FUCK THAT GUY – I found him posting using his personal email linked to his Facebook. This was the first time I really encountered the culture of “the nice guy” who gets off on rescuing damsels in distress. It’s a really common thing in revenge porn. But, I fell for it, cried to him… thanked him… * vomits internally thinking about it. * So, I asked for the help of my teacher friend to remove them again or maybe it just went away? I’m not entirely sure.

My images went up and down for years and I became more and more reclusive and withdrawn from society in general. My drinking increased – My social life decreased. PSA: drinking doesn’t help. I posted late night fb statuses about predators in our town and then deleted them. I wrote anonymous posts on IMGUR and REDDIT and found a great community of assholes who were sympathetic. I reported the whole site to NCMEC (national center for missing and exploited children) repeatedly because I knew for a fact hundreds of the featured women were underage in their photos but nothing came of it.

About a year ago, I was in a particularly obsessive and dark place when Katelyn reached out to me with a message saying I had been posted and my heart sank. I was so over the cat and mouse game that was revenge porn and I was ready to fight back. So, I unloaded everything to her in a message and got dressed and went to the police. Turns out around 6 other women went to police when I did and I was on cloud nine. Finally doing something felt fantastic. I joined BADASS made some posts in our private group and it was amazing to feel like I was a part of something and no longer alone in my struggles. I started doing more for the group and now I’m CSO/tech liaison. I devote a massive chunk of my time to victims of revenge porn and it’s not far from what I’ve already been doing these years but it’s different because now I have a voice, I’m not keeping my head down and it matters. I could drone on about all the projects I’m in charge of or working on. Honestly, I could fill an entire day with talking about revenge porn. I’ve gained so much knowledge that it’s hard not to spill it sometimes. Just know that we are making change, forcing the hands and hearts of many to hear our cries, and eradicating revenge porn once and for all. Thank you for taking the time to read this messy recollection of my story. Please get involved, call your lawmakers and tell them they need to protect the women and children in their states with a solid revenge porn bill. And if you don’t like the way something is… Do something about it, kick and scream and never be silent. YOU’RE important, YOU matter.

And to the assholes reading this and making fun of me, “we’re always watching.”

-Rachel Lamp, CSO and Tech Liaison @ BADASS

FAQ for my Revenge Porn Poster

Q. What is revenge porn?

Revealing or sexually explicit images or videos of a person posted on the Internet, typically by a former sexual partner, without the consent of the subject and in order to cause them distress or embarrassment.

In short: Posting nudes of someone online without their consent.

See also the definitions of: Stupid, Uncool, Criminal Behavior.

Q. Did I commit a crime?

Yes. It’s illegal to post naked photos of someone without their consent.

Consequences in your state:  

Your first offense is considered a misdemeanor (punishable with up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 fine).

Your second offense (yeah, we know about that one, too) is considered a third degree felony (punishable with up to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine).

Q. Am I entitled to a woman’s body? Even if we dated once?

Absolutely not. In fact I’d venture to say you’re lucky you were ever able to look at or enjoy her body.  Specifically relating to photographs of her body post-breakup: Sure, a person cannot sue to get their photos back after a break up (yet) but see the FAQ above in reference to posting those photos online without her consent.

It is not your right to share her body with other people without her consent. Notice the term HER in context with the term BODY.

VOCABULARY:

HER – Her is a possessive pronoun. This means that something following the term “her” belongs to that person. In context with BODY which follows the term “her” – the body belongs to HER.

CONSENT – (noun) permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Remember, consent is freely given, activity specific, active and ongoing, can be revoked at ANY point.

***this also applies to women who post nudes of men or other women and men who post photos of other men. Basically: NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO ANYONE’S BODY. There, that wasn’t hard.

Q. I posted anonymously, that means it can’t be traced back to me right?

No. Chances are it’s being traced back to you right now, or already has been.

Q. I used an old photo from years ago LOL she’ll never figure out it was me.

Pretty sure she knows. See above.

Q. Does posting on Anon-IB or other revenge porn forums make me a cool guy?

If by cool guy you mean a complete loser with no productive or fulfilling actual life.. Then sure, you’re probably the coolest guy.

Q. Does posting revenge porn make me look like I am insecure?

I think it probably solidifies the fact that you’re insecure. Before you posted people could probably already tell you hated yourself, but after, it’s really obvious that you need constant attention and validation and you’re willing to do just about anything to get it.  

Q. Is my mom going to get in trouble if I used her internet to post naked photos of someone without consent?

This is simultaneously gross, sad, and pathetic. But yes, you’ve made your mother vulnerable to legal action because you couldn’t get over your need to hurt someone or take advantage of trust they once gave you.

Q. Will women trust getting naked in front of me again?

Well, you sound like you have some serious control and insecurity issues so I’m not sure why they would anyway but my bet is that your “secret”, “anonymous” internet activities will probably be a deterrent.

Q. Will posting revenge porn affect my business?

Getting arrested and paying heavy fines might affect your business life, yes. I suppose you can keep trying your luck and find out for yourself?

Q. Did I hurt her by posting her topless photo online?

If that’s what you were looking for… yes you did. You made her feel unsafe, insecure, and ashamed. You made her feel like she had no agency over her body. You made her second guess herself and have made it more difficult for her to trust others.  For five months she woke up everyday feeling awful about herself, she cried daily, and couldn’t understand why someone would do something like this. She looked over her shoulder worried everyday because she didn’t know right away who the “anonymous” people posting and commenting about her body were. She didn’t want to go out in public in fear that the people she saw were people that were commenting on the photo.  You made her fear for losing her job. You made her experience the shame of her family finding out her naked photos were online.

BUT I think the one thing you’re forgetting though is who you’re dealing with. As much as you hurt her now and in the past – this girl is a badass. Everything you hated about her before (her intelligence, her drive, her voice) has just gotten stronger. She was always a fighter before, but now she’s part of an army.. And we’re coming for you.

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

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!