This week, hundreds of Australian teenage girls have been pushed to the edge.
They’ve discovered naked photos of themselves have been uploaded without their consent onto a sickening online porn sharing website.
Some of the photos were taken without the girls’ knowledge. Others may have been taken by the girls themselves and shared with a partner. It matters little, because now those images are being viewed lasciviously online by low-life scum around the world. Personal details are being traded. Blanks filled in.
And for those girls who have been targeted, the world has suddenly become a very dark, scary place. For many girls, they have entered a type of hell where it seems there is no possible escape. Ever.
But they are wrong. I am here to tell you they are wrong.
You see, three years ago I received a phone call.
I was told something had surfaced about me online. This wasn’t unusual. I’d been writing online for several years. During that time I’d been hit with every insult imaginable. But this was different. Whatever it was that had been discovered – well, I knew it wasn’t good. Put it this way, my editor was crying.
Turns out a “pro-rape” website run out of Europe had decided to punish me for writing so many feminist articles.
To teach me a lesson they’d published a 1000 word essay about me. A 1000 word essay calling me a slut and a whore. A 1000 word essay that fabricated a sexual history for me. An essay that included a photo of one of my children; a link to my husband’s workplace. An essay that was designed to humiliate me.
I don’t know what was worse: the story itself or the hundreds and hundreds of comments made about me by men around the world who made lewd, gut-churning remarks about my appearance.
So I know what it’s like to feel like your story, your image is out of your control. I know what it’s like to worry that for the rest of your life when people Google your name this story – these ugly words – will come up.