How one Fumble blogger recovered from having her explicit images shared without consent
In February 2017, I discovered that my partner had shown nude images of me to his friends without my consent.
This hit me pretty hard. I had been taking nude photos of myself for several months and sharing them amongst a group of trusted friends, as a way to build confidence in my body and in my sexuality. It was a while before I felt comfortable sharing them with my partner.
I was aware that sharing these images with anyone, even a partner, is risky – and an enormous leap of faith and trust the person you are sharing the images with. But I don’t think any of us ever really imagine that we will experience having that trust broken; when this happens, it can leave us feeling pretty broken, too.
Even worse than the fact that my partner had breached my trust during our relationship, was that he had done so in an attempt to make me look crazy. As soon as I learned what had happened, I deleted all the images from my phone. I hid away from everyone, including the group I had initially shared the photos with. The relationship was over; there was no getting around that. You need to be able to trust your partner, and I couldn’t.
I began researching the laws around sexting and revenge porn, and quickly learned I was in no way protected. Whilst malicious, my partner’s actions were not classed as being done ‘in revenge’. He also hadn’t distributed physical or digital copies of the photos – to my knowledge – only shown them to people on his phone. As the laws around the sharing and redistribution of explicit images are still very new, there’s not much of a supportive framework for victims.
I had to accept that if I was to get any closure, I would have to do it myself. I cut off my partner and the people he’d shared the photos with… and then I set up my phone, ready to take more photos. It became important to me that I didn’t allow the crude comments made about me force me into hiding my sexuality (although moving forwards I would be even more cautious about who I shared pictures with).
I’m still angry about the fact that there are people out there who have seen my body in all its glory without my consent. I still wonder if there are people who have seen the photos, who I’m not even aware of. But my biggest focus is continuing with my journey in learning to love my body. I’m not going to hide it because the actions of a few disrespectful people, who treated me as a sexual object rather than the beautiful human being I am.
Taking pictures of myself does not mean that I’m “gagging for it”. I’m learning how to love every inch of my body as I make my way through this life. And you should too, in whatever way that works for you.
If someone has shared images of you without your consent, here are some resources and places you can go for support:
To learn more about the risks of sharing explicit images, check out Sexting 101