Stolen Photos and The Thing I’m Finally Writing About

by , under personal, Pirate

As I’m sure everyone heard by now, a lot of female celebrities had nude pictures leaked over the weekend. Leaked. Isn’t it amazing that the media uses that word instead of stolen? Because leaked makes it sound so harmless, so much less violating than something being stolen and put on the internet where anyone can view them.

I hope nobody who reads this blog helped spread them. I hope that nobody believes any of the sexist garbage that the media has been spewing either.I’ve heard a lot of ridiculous garbage from radio DJs and TV talking heads – about how unfortunate this is, but it’s a good reminder that you shouldn’t take these pictures in the first place.

Excuse me? That’s like telling someone who was robbed that it’s their fault because they shouldn’t have bought something nice. Don’t even get me started on saying that it’s only appropriate that women avoid certain activities (like taking pictures of themselves or recording anything with their sexual partners). I’d say that it’s like telling women not to wear clothes they like or go out to bars because they might be raped – but as a society, we actually do that (which yes, I am constantly disgusted by).

thinking_about_the_thingIf any of this seems like I’m taking it very personally, it’s because I am. You know the Thing that I Can’t Talk About? It’s time for me to talk about it.

Two months ago, I found out that a friend of ours had stolen something from TheBoy and I. When we were in our early 20s, we had a camcorder for the first time and recorded a tape. Yes, that kind of tape. We kept it away from the rest of our tapes, and didn’t think about it again.

Until the friend confessed to TheBoy that he had stolen the tape when he helped us move from apartment to apartment. He actually didn’t just steal the tape- he stole it, made a copy of it, and then snuck it back where we’d kept it so that we wouldn’t ever know. And because he made that copy, it’s now being used as leverage against him – and the person doing it is refusing to give it to us.

When I first found out, I cried. I screamed. I felt like I was going to throw up, because I knew that someone I knew and trusted had watched that tape and masturbated – watching us, as though we were just another clip on the internet.

No, I’m not going to say who it is. Just that it was someone very close to us, and someone that both TheBoy and I thought we could trust.

For days, I didn’t do much more than attempt to get some work done and make sure the kids were fed. I stopped running, because I didn’t want to get out of bed. I actually had a mild Crohn’s flare-up because of the stress, and TheBoy had to call into work to make sure the kids were taken care of. I had to force myself to eat (I literally had reminders in my phone).

And even still, it’s hard to want to get out there to run. It’s been hard for me to want to wear the clothes that I love, because on occasion the sundresses and skirts make me feel too exposed. I haven’t wanted to blog or work on fiction, because when it came to blogging, it felt like I was lying if I was talking about the fun we’d had over the summer. Which is a shame, because this was a great summer. It honestly was. And looking back on it, it doesn’t feel like I had the right to enjoy it – which I now realize is depression.

My reactions? That’s from knowing that at least two people (the thief and the extortionist) have viewed the tape. I don’t have to wake up and make it through the day knowing that millions of people probably saw me naked and vulnerable. That millions of strangers aren’t weighing in on my actions of having taken it in the first place.

As a victim, I am going to tell you right now what I’ve noticed about how the media is discussing this.

They aren’t calling it theft on a regular basis. They aren’t discussing this as the women being violated. They aren’t even regularly calling out the scumbags who stole the pictures and then plastered them on the internet- or the people who reposted them. Instead, the media focus is on the women, and how they were wrong to have taken the pictures in the first place and used cloud storage.

Ask yourself this: when someone is robbed, do we as a society tell them that it’s the victim’s fault because they wanted something nice? No. If someone’s involved in a car accident, do we say that it’s their fault for being in the car at the same time someone else was drunk or texting? No. Yet, in cases like this (and when a girl or woman is sexually assaulted) we regular blame the actions of the victims. We excuse it, because of course someone’s curious about a pretty woman who’s famous. Because it wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t of taken the pictures or recorded the video in the first place. Are you kidding me?

I’m seeing a therapist, and when I explained the situation to him – and explained that the only reason the Thief knew about the tape in the first place was that TheBoy had mentioned that one existed (he didn’t even mention where it was kept). And my therapist told me that we hadn’t done anything wrong. There was no invitation for it to be stolen, copied. Or for it to be viewed and jacked off to. We did nothing to encourage those actions or to deserve them. We were two consenting adults who recorded something and kept it somewhere reasonably private. We couldn’t possibly have foreseen there was someone close to us who has no boundaries of what’s right and wrong. Or that they’d know someone so self-absorbed that they wouldn’t realize that hanging onto that tape does more emotional damage to us than it would to the thief.

If you can’t fault me, then you can’t fault these women. They simply lived their lives, and we shouldn’t judge them instead of the person/s who ignored their privacy, stole those pictures, and put them up on the internet. Instead, we can tell the media to change their dialogue.

We don’t want to hear people being shamed when they’re the victims. It’s time to start placing the blame where it belongs- on the creeps who violated someone’s privacy by stealing and sharing these, and the people who just keep twisting the knife in the wound by keeping those photos out there.

So there you have it, most of The Thing. I removed as many details as I could, because unlike others involved- I am actually aware that these things cause collateral damage, and there are other people who would be hurt, and I understand fully what it’s like to be dragged into something you have no business being part of. For now, this is all I’m going to say about it…

I’m not sharing this for your sympathy. I’m sharing this because maybe hearing my story will make you rethink how we talk about “leaked” photos and videos. Maybe it’ll help you be a little more understanding about who’s in the wrong.

  • Misa

    I am so sorry that happened to you. I think, in many ways, when something like that is done by someone we trusted, that makes it so much harder. I am sorry you’re going through this.

  • It has certainly made it harder to understand. I’ve had a lot of stuff happen in my past that caused me not to trust people who weren’t already in my social circle – because it was a safety issue. People I didn’t already know seemed to want to hurt me, and objectify me.

    So having this come from someone I called a friend? It’s been crippling. I think the only thing good that’s come out of this is that I realized I didn’t want him to win – and so I started going to therapy. (Okay, one more good thing- I’ve realized who my real friends are in all of this)

  • Faith McKay

    This was such a brave blog post. I’m so impressed with your strength and the proactiveness on your part, to go to therapy and take care of yourself. I’m so sorry this happened and that people can be so awful, but it’s inspiring to see you pushing through it. It scares me to think of how long I might take in that situation, to do things like go to therapy and talk about what was happening. So yeah. Thank you for sharing, it’s really inspiring, and I hope that sharing helps lift the weight of The Thing a little for you.

  • Thanks Faith. One of the things I couldn’t work into the post was that unfortunately this wasn’t the first time someone ignored personal boundaries, and while I’d talked about these situations with people close to me… I never healed, and I certainly didn’t walk away from those experiences feeling like anyone took my complaints seriously (the earliest happened in high school- I was stalked and the school said it wasn’t serious, and that I should consider myself lucky that he found me attractive). And the results were that I trusted fewer people because it lessened the chances of being hurt by them. And in the last couple years I’ve started to make new friends… and I didn’t want to go back to the way I was before. So therapy seemed like the best choice.

    Sharing this has lessened the weight, definitely. I’m sure I’ll still have bad days – but the response I’ve gotten around the internet’s helped remind me that I’m not alone, and that people don’t think less of me. That they understand that I didn’t do anything to deserve this.

  • Tigger

    You did it! You blogged about The Thing! Thank you for sharing your story for all to see. I know, I KNOW, it is a huge step for you to take…but you did, and I am so very fucking proud of you. I am literally cheering you right now, even though you can’t see me. I know you didn’t do this for the kudos but you’re getting them anyways. This brings the stealing of the photos to a more personal place for some, I bet. Because yes, we have a tendency to be all “you put ’em out there, it’s what’s going to happen”. I actually heard that (not related to this event but the idea) from a guildmate a few days ago and I wanted to punch him because you are right, we do not blame others when something happens like they get a TV stolen. Usually when it’s women – if someone stole pics of men, it wouldn’t be nearly as big – but women? Yeah, we aren’t allowed to have this stuff. Thank you, Whit, for putting into words what we all think but can’t put forth.

  • 🙂 That means so much…. yeah, this was terrifying, and my goal really was to help people realize that the theft of these photos affects these women personally. It’s so easy to forget that celebs are people, and that no- being famous or being attractive isn’t an invitation to have your privacy violated like that.

    And it’s very true – when this happens to men, the man in question can crack a joke about it being a cold day, and people laugh and move on. But there’s no judgement for having taken the picture (just usually on the picture itself)

    And thank you for being you. You’ve been a huge help through this.

  • Jones6192

    This was very well written. I’ve been definitely pondering very hard this whole celeb pics controversy lately, and it’s made me look inward at my own flaws as a person, and my own opinions. Both this and Lawrence’s recent official response have forced me to recognize my own mistakes with how I looked at this situation. I deeply appreciate your courage sharing this, and I wish you the best.

  • Mecha Ghidorah

    seriously, what would make you want to even make a tape like that ? should it be stolen, no. but it does show a real lack of morals/values.

  • Tigger

    So it implies a lack of morals to take a video in your own home for your own use, in which everyone is consensual and adult? Unlikely. What I (or anyone else does) in my own home is up to me and the people involved. It has little reflection on my morals or my values. NONE of us are in a place to judge the morals and values of anyone else.

  • Pingback: [Video] Being Brave/Being Honest / Geek. Pirate. Mom()

  • Pingback: #MeToo: Exposing how deep rape culture goes. /()