'I took topless photos when I was 14 – I have no idea how many people saw them'

Anonymous author
·4-min read
A teenage victim of revenge porn writes on the importance of the Domestic Abuse Bill - Alamy
A teenage victim of revenge porn writes on the importance of the Domestic Abuse Bill - Alamy

When I was 14, I was very shy, wore glasses, and didn’t look anything like the petite blonde girls in my class. I would have done anything to be as confident as they seemed - so, during the summer holiday, I straightened my hair, got contact lenses, and walked back into school as a different person.

The popular girls started to pay me attention. They said that they wanted to set me up with their male friends at the boys' school over the road, and I started to join in their instant messaging groups at night. I was so excited - I thought I was finally going to be like them. But those boys had no intention of dating me; it was only later that I realised they were making fun of me and had told the boys I would do anything sexually.

The atmosphere at my all-girls' school centred around pleasing boys. One day I received a message from Oscar*, one of the most popular boys in the year above at our neighbouring school. He was being so nice to me, and sent me a topless picture of himself. Then he said: "your turn."

I had never sent naked pictures before, but speaking to him gave me the confidence to take them. I sent one in my bra, and one without; he never replied. Later, I found out the message had been from a different boy, who had changed his profile picture and name pretending to be Oscar.

I'll never forget that next morning at school: walking into my classroom with all the girls sitting on the window ledge squealing with laughter. My pictures had been sent around. Everyone was talking about it, and practically the whole year group came into our classroom to laugh at me. It was crushing to realise that something that made me feel so confident and body positive was so hilarious to everyone else.

One girl - who I thought was my friend - had printed the pictures off and posted them outside our headteacher’s office. Suddenly, everyone had access to the most intimate parts of me.

People called me a slut and a slag, and thought that I was "easy". But there wasn’t a single conversation had or question asked by my teachers. No one asked if I was OK. They didn’t contact the police, and there was zero communication between the schools - despite the fact they are right opposite each other. Because of that, I convinced myself that there was nothing wrong with what had happened.

I still have no idea where those pictures have ended up or how many people they were circulated to. It's a very frightening thought.

Now, a few years on, I am also angry. I'm angry that no one acknowledged what took place, or that I was a victim. I'm angry that I was made to feel as if I was to blame. I have since struggled to trust people. In relationships, I have sent nudes to boyfriends and have then had flashbacks to what happened in school.

Now, thanks in part to the Domestic Abuse Bill, there is finally a legal definition for what happened to me: revenge porn.

Having a name to put to my experience - and the experiences of so many other young women - gives it the attention and gravitas that it deserves. I now work as a political staffer and think the DAB is a landmark because it recognises revenge porn, and even the threats to share it, as a crime - as well as other forms of abuse that don't leave physical scars. After nearly three years of delays, the Bill needs to be enshrined into law.

Being a young victim of revenge porn can define your sense of self for the rest of your life. I hope that safeguarding in schools has improved since my experience and that they teach a comprehensive sex education. I hope young girls in a similar situation aren’t made to feel they are to blame - it is always the other party who has done something wrong by sharing images without your consent.

As told to Maighna Nanu

*Names have been changed