I was a victim of revenge porn after a one night stand

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I was a victim of revenge porn after a one night stand

‘He said he would let people see what a slut I was’

When third year student Liz (not her real name) slept with a guy after a drunken night out, she expected she would never have to think about the one night stand again.

Unfortunately, Liz is one of endless victims of revenge porn every year in the UK, and what she thought was an intimate moment was soon broadcast across her town.

This is her story.

“What happened to me, I don’t know if it even counts as revenge porn. Which I guess just shows that it’s still a pretty sheltered problem if you can’t even identify if that’s what happened.”

Liz’s experience took place when she was 17, before she’d gone to uni and on a night out after a blazing row with her parents.

She said: “I didn’t want to be at home and I was drinking a lot more than I should. I saw some guys I recognised from my year at school – I didn’t really know them but I’d lost the group I’d gone out with and wasn’t ready to go home, so I went home with three of them.

“We carried on drinking for another few hours and they wanted to leave but I still didn’t want to go home, they asked if I wanted to go drink with them at one of the lad’s houses so I did. We were doing shots and by this point I was completely smashed, two of the lads had gone to sleep and I was about ready to pass out. I curled up in the bed to pass out and felt the lad I’d stayed up with get in next to me, I’d been flirting with him all night and decided fuck it what’s the harm.”

Liz had sex with the boy, thinking the others were asleep, but was unaware she was being filmed by one of his friends. The next morning, as she went to leave she was confronted by one of his friends, who asked her to perform a sex act on him.

“I said no, and he just laughed and said I’d regret it. At the time I didn’t understand what he meant but he said I would regret it and he would let people see what a slut I was. I assumed he was just drunk rambling and ignored him and stumbled home.”

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Brushing the experience off, Liz didn’t think about it again until a friend messaged her the next day asking what happened.

“I didn’t want her to know so I just acted like I had no idea. Then she sent me a video. That went around everyone knew about it and I was basically a joke in my area.”

Like many victims of revenge porn, Liz didn’t know how to address what had happened, and didn’t confront the perpetrators, instead blaming herself.

“I didn’t speak to them about it, I didn’t understand how to deal with it and thought that it was my fault anyway, after talking to the friend who found the video, she said it was my fault too and that was the general opinion. I didn’t understand why I was being blamed and they weren’t so I just ignored the whole thing cut them out of my life. Most people who I knew when it happened I cut from my life because I didn’t know how to deal with it.

“I lied to cope with it, so anyone I knew who mentioned it I pretended like I knew and it was fine and we all agreed to it because at the time I thought it was better to be seen as a slut than a victim

“Luckily no one in my family saw, but I did tell my older sister the basis of what happened just so if she heard about it she already knew. When I panicked and told my friend I had no idea about it she called me a liar and a dick, so I thought by lying about it I had control of it by not letting people think I was hurt. But it went so far that I couldn’t then say actually I had no idea because people wouldn’t understand.”

Shortly after the incident Liz moved from the area to go to university in Wales, but says the backlash from her revenge porn ordeal hasn’t gone away.

“None of my friends now know, at least not every detail because I don’t want that kind of thing being common knowledge.

“It gets mentioned now and again, but I tried to cut everyone from before uni out of my life. I was home for New Year and it was mentioned in a passing comment when I saw some people from my old school. We were having a casual chat and they asked if I still slept around, and joked about me going into porn. People still remember because to them it was just a funny moment, but it wasn’t like that to me.

“It never really stops. Like people stopped talking about it within a month or two but everyone still knows and I know that the video is probably still out there somewhere cause there’s no way you can make sure every single copy is deleted.

“I think I grew numb to the whole situation as I’ve gotten older it’s actually helped me in a weird way because it made me a lot stronger. I realised that what other people think of you doesn’t actually matter that much, and if they want to think negatively of you, you’re not a bitch for removing them from your life, and it showed me that no matter how shit life gets things always improve.”

Liz’s story is far from uncommon. Videos shared over WhatsApp or uploaded online can quickly spiral out of control, and grim sites like myex.com are dedicated to shaming ex-partners by posting their intimate snaps and videos online.

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The potentially devastating effect of revenge porn led York finalist Heather Robertson to set up her own UK based campaign to have it banned.

She explained: “I think talking to our own welfare team at university, they don’t really know much about revenge porn as it’s such a new phenomenon.

“It’s been all the rage in America and now it’s becoming more and more prominent over here. Obviously at university level if it does happen it’s a lot more serious because it’s when you’re trying to look at going into work.”

Calling revenge porn a mix between victim blaming and slut-shaming, Heather, who studied Law at York, added: “You can put yourself in a vulnerable situation but you’re not to blame when someone takes advantage of you in that vulnerable situation and it’s dangerously close to the ‘shouldn’t have worn a short skirt’ argument in cases of rape.

“I do find it quite hard to engage in that argument because to me it’s an absolute no brainer – I don’t know how anyone in a vulnerable situation can be blamed when someone takes advantage to them. It doesn’t take away from how bad it is and I actually find it quite baffling that people stick to that argument so vehemently.”

In April this year a law was passed to make revenge porn illegal and punishable by up to two years in prison in England and Wales.

@rosielanners

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