How would you react if someone got their hands on your private nude photos? Embarrassment? Anger? Shame? Would you have the courage to do what journalist Emma Holten has?
Four years ago intimate photographs of Danish journalist Emma Holten were posted on the web and viewed by thousands. She was subsequently bombarded with messages from men all over the world and she still gets harassed online today. During the extremely difficult aftermath — “It has been a huge task for me to muster any kind of self-worth after being told every day for three years that I don’t deserve it” — Emma spent a lot of time thinking about the bigger picture: our relationship to consent.
“Just as rape and sex have nothing to do with each other, pictures shared with and without consent are completely different things,” Emma says. She decided to “write a new story” about her body, teaming up with photographer Cecilie Bødker to try to portray her naked body as a sexual subject instead of an object. She then published the images for the world to see.
Read more about Emma’s experience here.
Warning: Video contains nudity
Video credit: The Guardian/YouTube
Has someone got their hands on intimate images of you? Here’s how to handle it.
Let yourself be angry. This is a total breach of your privacy so let your feelings out.
Surround yourself with supportive people. Anyone who’s going to judge you for this isn’t someone you need right now.
Contact the owner of any website you’ve seen your images on, be it a social media or revenge porn site. This won’t stop your photo being spread once it’s already out there but it can reduce the number of people who can see it, save it and pass it on to others. It’s also worth reminding website owners that they can be charged with spreading child pornography (regardless of what age you are).
Contact the police. Let them know what’s happened so that they have a record of it, in case it leads to an investigation into hacking or sites that specialise in images of women who haven’t given their consent. Likewise inform the police if you receive any harassment or threats as a result of your pictures being out there.
Resist the temptation to seek revenge. If you know who stole and/or spread your images, you probably feel like retaliating in the most extreme way possible. Don’t sink to that level.
Ramp up your online security. If you have pictures on your phone you wouldn’t be happy for the public to see, delete them and make sure they’re not saved in your iCloud photostream if you’re an iPhone user. Change all your passwords, making them stronger (no middle names or dates of birth). Good hackers can work their way through almost anything if they’re determined enough but these steps will help to prevent a leak.