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!”

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

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.