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I Was a Victim of Revenge Porn -- I Don't Want Anyone Else to Face It

My ex tried to sell nude photos of me on eBay and put them on a porn site. I fought back

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For over a year thereafter, even though the auctions were down, and I blocked Joey's email addresses and phone numbers, I oscillated between panic and persistent anxiety. I would wake up at 3am and check my email, my Facebook page, eBay, then Google my name, a ritual I performed three times before I could settle back down. In September 2011, I was thrown into panic again after I read an anonymous email alerting me to an online profile that featured nude pictures of me.

I Googled my name, and there I was, on a porn website. The profile included my full name, the city and state where I live, the name of the college where I teach and the campus. There was a solicitation – HOT FOR TEACHER? WELL, COME GET IT! The site had been up for 14 days and had been viewed over 3,000 times. He was pretending to be me. There were "friends" who commented on my pictures. He was chatting with people as if it were me. My stomach hurt. I held my breath and printed every page of comments, all seventeen of them.

I snatched the pages from the printer and ran to my car. Once again, I would find myself being shamed, by the same officer from the year prior, and being told, "There is nothing we can do. No crime has been committed." I explained to this cop that I was in danger of being stalked. My name was on that site. He said, "If anything happens, call us. Then we can do something."

Afraid to be in public, I raced home and called the  Maryland state police and the Baltimore division of the FBI. I left messages explaining what happened. Then I called my therapist who was treating me for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder for the past year and cancelled my session. I was too scared to leave my house. She insisted I go on medical leave from work.

Another 48 hours were spent engrossed in damage control. A senior administrator at the college denied my request for medical leave, claiming that I perpetrated the incident. I had to make a case why I needed to go on leave. It was humiliating. I feared for my job.

That night, I sunk into despair so deep I felt nothing. Because of the permanence of the internet, and lack of legislation, this torture  was never going to end. I seriously contemplated ending my life. I would have been successful if it weren't for three things, my dog needed to be let out, my mom called, and the pills I took weren't fatal.

Surviving the attempt wasn't the turning point that pushed me to action. It was a conversation with a state trooper two weeks later who was assigned my case that did. He gently explained the current laws and the limits of those laws to me. I was frustrated and blurted out, "Well, then I'm going to change the laws."
His reply was, "Annmarie, if you can do that, it would make my job a lot easier."
So I set out to keep my word to the trooper, the first law enforcement official to show genuine kindness and compassion.

On 2 February 2011, I testified before the Maryland General Assembly's judicial committee in support of Senate bills 175 and 107. Senate Bill 175 passed into law on 10 April 2012 and went into effect on 1 October 2012. The bill amended Maryland's misuse of electronic mail statute to include all forms of electronic communication. It was a step forward, but a small one. There are still amendments needed, and they shall come in time.

 
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