“I’m furious that people have taken away my choice to share my body with whom I choose. I’m furious that they made me feel guilty, ashamed, worried, sick, and then guilty again, and then like a slut.”
In 2016, Laura* took ‘the silliest topless photos ever’ and sent them on to her best friend. In the name of humour, Laura didn’t hesitate when sending these photos to someone she trusted completely.
Before judging people who have naked images leaked online as being dumb or naive, read Laura’s story…
20-year-old Deakin media student, Laura, shared her story about how images of her naked body were posted on the internet, inviting us into the mind of someone who has been a victim of a naked image leak.
Laura got up on a seemingly normal day, checked her phone and her world turned upside down. She had a slew of messages from people saying they had seen explicit photos of her online.
As reality hit that the photos Laura took to make her friend laugh had become a harsh, public and embarrassing online gallery of her naked body for the world to see, she was flooded with a wave of emotions.
“I was absolutely shocked and confused. I was initially angry. I was getting that hot from the inside type of feeling when something massive happens and it’s totally out of your control. I then tried to brush it off and go with the whole ‘they’re just boobs’ approach, which didn’t work. I contemplated posting the photos on my own Facebook page, so that people would no longer have a need to post about me. I contemplated going to the police. In the end, I just decided not to address it and hoped that it would just blow over,” Laura said.
“The photos of me were not sexy or provocative in any way. They were silly and ridiculous but somehow that didn’t mean anything to the people sharing them,” Laura said.
The revealing photos of her were posted onto a website known as 4Chan, where naked images have been infamously leaked of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton in the past.
Spending weeks wondering how this happened and if her friend had betrayed her, Laura traced the leak back to her friend’s phone being stolen and the thief taking the images and sharing them online.
“After discovering the photos were leaked because my friend’s phone had been stolen I had so many mixed feelings and I think a lot of these were me trying to tell myself it was okay,” she said.
The photos that were posted in the thread were of Laura and her friends, taken from the camera roll of the stolen phone. “Some of the photos were just ones from Instagram of girls in their bathers and some of them had been really skilfully cropped to get rid of the girls’ clothes, the ones of me were just ridiculous but somehow that didn’t matter to the people posting the photos of me on about 20 different threads,” she said.
With social media at our fingertips and so many people in our generation today being so hooked on it, we probably all know someone who this has happened to.
It easy to sit back and categorise these victims as stupid or slutty but the reality is that, this could happen to any of us. It could be a matter of betrayal, putting your trust in the wrong person or your images being stolen.
It is so important for people to remember that people who have naked images of themselves leaked online are victims of extreme, intense betrayal, often from people who they are closest to.
Instead of judging these people for what has happened to them, it is time we start realising what they are going through and how horrible it would be for so many people to be able to see you in such a vulnerable and intimate state.
Laura is just one of these victims willing to share her story, although there are many, many more who still refuse to speak of what they have felt after going through this ordeal.
If you have been a victim of online image-abuse, you now know you are not alone. Laura and many others have also been through what you are going through. If you aren’t coping well, head to Beyond Blue or Headspace and seek help.
*name has been changed for anonymity