Tell the truth about your life and split the world open

Posing nude was never high on my to-do list in my relationships. But this guy was special – he was my have-to-have. We met and fell in love in 1985 when I was in high school. In 1989, we almost married, but I went off to college and he went off to pursue a music career.

16 years later we reunited. He sought me out through Facebook, and I fell for him all over again.  We picked up where we left off and began building our life together. I trusted him implicitly. I allowed him to form a relationship with my children. He was the model of a future stepfather, husband, partner.

Even though he loved me deeply, his definition of love was warped. He saw his role as that of a possessive, protective man.  He saw his beloved as a thing to be controlled. His abusive childhood shaped this approach to love. I believed I could help him heal. I gave it every effort I could.  But, in the end, he was abusive, and I had to get out.

He was not going to take this break up gently. He was, as he put it, going to destroy me.

He created an eBay auction. The item up for bids? My body. All 88 pictures I had let him take over a 6-month period. He posted the link to the auction on the 5 Facebook pages of the college where I teach. He used my email account to send links to the auction to my ex-husband, babysitters, family, and friends. He mailed a printout of the auction page and a CD of the images to my son’s kindergarten teacher at the Catholic school he attends. He mailed the same to the chair of the English department at my college.

I was panicked and embarrassed. Focused on damage control, I fought with eBay to have the auction removed. Once one auction was taken down, he would start a new one under a new user name. I reported email abuse to Yahoo!, and pleaded with Facebook to have the links taken down. I contacted the senior administrators who maintain my college’s Facebook pages and asked them to take the links down and block him.  I reached out to law enforcement officials in my county, but was repeatedly told there was nothing they could do because he had not committed a crime.

Damage control took precedence over eating, sleeping, my work, and sometimes even my children. After three weeks the auctions had been taken down, the links had been removed and Yahoo! Had “taken action” against him.

I blocked his and all his friends’ email addresses and phone numbers.

I had not had any contact with him in over 14 months.

Then, on 19 September, 2011, I received an email at work that a profile was made of me by someone acting as me that featured naked pictures of me. It was him. It had to be.

The profile featured my full name and the details of my place of employment. It made me a target. The tagline on the profile read, “Hot for teacher? Come and get it!” A solicitation. I was so terrified, I couldn’t leave my home for months .

I reported the impersonation to the web-hosting site, and it came down three days later. It had been active for 15 days and had over 3,000 views.

Again, law enforcement officials couldn’t help me. So I decided to change the laws.

In 2012 I testified before the judicial committee of the Maryland General Assembly in support of Senate Bill 175, which would amend the online harassment and stalking laws to provide victims with more prosecuting power. The bill was passed in April, and the amended law went into effect in October 2012.

Now I am a victim advocate with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, and am working with legislators to make non-consensual pornography (or revenge porn) a crime in Maryland.

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