Trigger warning: sexual scenes, date rape
On Wednesday, a twenty-second video of my naked body was published on Facebook without my consent. This video, filmed two years ago, was from a holiday where I cheated on my boyfriend. It was wrong, I know. But that’s not the problem with this video.
The publication of the video has come two weeks after I initially told my boyfriend that I cheated on him. Whilst obviously he was upset, we are working through it. However, he, as well as myself, was horrified that this has been put online— considering I didn’t even know it was being filmed. I had no recollection of any videos or images being taken of me, and to be frank, I cant really remember the entire night. Which led to another question— had I been spiked?
Now, I don’t drink that often, so you could call me a lightweight, but I always remember the majority of the night. Considering that I can’t really remember drinking that much, it made sense when my partner suggested I had been a victim of the ‘date rape’ drug, R0hypnol.
When this video was filmed, I would have been 16 (the legal age of consent in the UK). However, I wouldn’t have been of the legal age to have sexual images circulating the internet. Two years is decent time to mature and reassess your values. Looking back, the guy I slept with really shouldn’t have taken advantage of a sad, drunk 16-year-old, let alone possibly spiking her.
I knew I needed the video taken down, but due to me blocking the guy (being harassed over Facebook for two years by him), I was helpless. You cannot report a video on Facebook unless you have the link— even by following the ‘Report Something I Can’t See’ link. It made me realize how hard it is to bring something like this to Facebook’s attention. By the time we realized we could do this, he had blocked all my mutual friends who were my lifeline to seeing what was happening with his profile. My only option was to unblock him, which could have resulted in him tagging me in the video, meaning my family and friends could see. Due to Facebook not allowing you to re-block someone for 48 hours after you have removed them from your blocked list, it was a risk I wasn’t willing to take. We were flying solo, and had nowhere to turn.
Luckily, a friend managed to get in contact with him, telling him that he could be labelled a child sex offender due to publishing sexual content of a minor, to which he said he had taken the video down. It was only when Facebook emailed us and told us that there was nothing dubious on his account that we could rest easy.That video had been up for two hours before I heard anything about it. It wasn’t flagged up as inappropriate content. It led me to reaffirm my beliefs that Facebook’s team should probably focus on weeding out sexual videos like this and putting a system in place for victims like me rather than censoring pictures of breastfeeding mothers.
Even though only online for a brief time, the publication of this video was enough to make me really think about social media and the lack of ways out for victims affected by situations like mine. I just hope that sometime in the future, there will be something to help, rather than shun.