A Victim Of Revenge Porn Tells Their Story

A Victim Of Revenge Porn Tells Their Story
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    - I genuinely didn't think that I would live
    past the age of 20.
    ^(buzzing music)
    ^My name is Leah Juliet and I am the Executive Director
    ^and Founder of the March Against Revenge Porn.
    When I was 14 years old, I was in a small town high school.
    I was in the closet as being gay
    and I was asked for nude photos.
    I was asked for nude photos by a boy who
    didn't have my best interests in mind.
    I kind of had a crush on him.
    But more so I thought that him liking me
    would help me advance in the school pipeline
    where acceptance was all about popularity.
    At first I of course, said no.
    Because I was always taught that nudity and sexuality
    in any form was inappropriate.
    And I felt the need to satisfy love and acceptance
    that I wasn't getting from anywhere else.
    I sent four photos.
    But before I sent them, I asked him if he would
    send them to anyone else.
    And he laughed at me.
    He was almost surprised that I would question his trust.
    And then he went on to ruin my life.
    Because I had only sent photos from my stomach up
    including my breasts and my face,
    I hadn't satisfied his urges.
    I didn't include pictures of my vagina.
    And after realizing that it was pathetic,
    I stopped and I told him no.
    And that's when he lost interest in me.
    And after a while I started to come out as being gay.
    Somewhere along the lines, something that I did upset him.
    He sent the pictures to everyone in the school.
    The first time that I was told that my photos
    had been sent to other people,
    I was sitting in science class and my lab partner
    across the table from me took out his phone
    and showed me my own pictures.
    I laughed it off and then proceeded to die inside.
    I left the class, ran to the bathroom,
    and tried to throw up, tried to cry but nothing came out.
    All that existed was my own shame sitting at the pit
    of my stomach.
    I was later informed that he had posted the pictures
    on a website called anonib,
    a photo sharing website where anyone can anonymously
    and strategically upload pictures of non-consenting victims.
    My photos were attached to my name and my town.
    I was terrified of my family, of my friends,
    of school administrators finding out what I had done.
    I had seen other girls get in trouble
    for sending nude pictures in the past.
    Because technically, it fell under the category
    of child pornography.
    And society automatically assumes that anyone
    who sends nude pictures is inherently wrong.
    So I stayed silent.
    I retracted myself from activities.
    At the same time, sunk into a pit of depression, PTSD,
    anxiety, self harm, and suicidal ideation.
    I genuinely didn't think that I would live
    past the age of 20.
    When I was a freshman in college,
    I opened up my laptop and I saw the mugshot of the boy
    who had posted my naked pictures online staring back at me.
    A news article said that he was on the run from the police
    for sexually assaulting a minor.
    That was the moment that I knew that revenge porn
    and other cyber crimes lead
    to actual physical sexual violence.
    I immediately felt guilty.
    And I thought that perhaps had I spoken out beforehand,
    he wouldn't have gone on to hurt other people.
    I started by using the only tool that I had,
    my voice and a pen.
    I wrote a poem and I performed that poem
    all across the state of Connecticut.
    I was able to take my voice back.
    To take my story and tell it on my own terms.
    And he could never silence me again.
    I traveled to Washington, D.C. and performed the poem at the
    Brave New Voices International Slam Poetry Competition.
    ^While I was there, I made a sign that said End Revenge Porn.
    And I held it up while standing in front of the White House.
    That was the first time I ever advocated on behalf of myself
    and on behalf of other revenge porn victims like me.
    A month later when I was finally home,
    I decided to found The March Against Revenge Porn.
    The first March Against Revenge Porn was held
    on April 1st, 2017 across the Brooklyn Bridge.
    Six months after the first march, I was contacted
    by the office of New York City Mayor, Bill DeBlasio.
    And was told that he had seen the revenge porn activism
    that I had completed.
    And that he was signing a bill into law criminalizing
    revenge porn as a misdemeanor in the city of New York.
    Currently, only 38 states in the United States
    have revenge porn legislation.
    And every state is different.
    In some states, it's a Class A misdemeanor.
    While in other states, it's a felony.
    I decided to bring the March Against Revenge Porn
    to different cities that have different revenge porn laws
    ^to shed light and bring attention to the fact that
    these disproportionate laws are affecting our communities.
    My personal victimization almost took my own life.
    I know now that I have a reason to live.
    And that is to help others.
    And to make sure that nobody experiences
    revenge porn victimization in the same way that I did.
    It is now my life's work to ensure
    that victims seek justice
    and revenge porn is criminalized nationwide.
    (upbeat music)
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