When her nude photos were leaked online, I watched
with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I saw them posted across every social media platform.
I saw her naked body, saw it commented upon and criticized.
I wrote a quick tweet in response to here ‘exposure’.
“Almost every woman I know has taken nudes at sometime
in her life. As more women under 40 run for office,
we are going to have to figure out how to stand
together and say it’s the leaking of them,
not the taking of them, that is shameful.”
The tweet got 1,000 likes quickly. The next day it had 34,000.
I watched people in the comments tell the stories about how
nude photos had been used against them. I watched many people,
mostly men, repeatedly blame women for sharing nudes,
instead of blaming the people who leaked them.
By the time I woke up on Wednesday morning, the tweet
had almost 100,000 likes. I felt something in me burst
like a bubble. I drafted a post on Facebook to share
something I had only ever told my closest friends.
I cared so deeply about this issue because it was my story, too.
I was only 19, and desperate for a roommate when I met the man
who would go on to get me very drunk, film me without consent
and release the evidence.
I’m 32 now and I can still feel the sensation of how
it felt to have my world crumble around me.
My boyfriend left me. I was forced out of the online
community where I’d found a home. I was utterly, hopelessly
alone. I even contemplated killing myself, especially as
this man threatened to show my parents the video.
He made DVDs and sent me a copy. When I saw it, I threw up.
Woman after woman is holding herself back,
not running for office, not going to school,
not starting a business because someone –
in some dark corner of the internet, or an
abusive ex, or a high school fling – has taken
away their choice. Released their nude photos.
Put videos on revenge porn sites.
Sextortion is a form of exploitation that involves
the threat of releasing shared intimate videos,
images, or explicit messages online.
A girl is typically lured into an online relationship
through social media. As the relationship builds,
she’s coerced into performing a sexual act on camera.
It’s recorded then expected to pay a fee or the video
or photo will be released publicly. In some cases,
she may be asked to send more explicit images.