3 Things I Learned After Being Threatened With Revenge Porn

Revenge porn isn't your fault; it's ABUSE.

3 Things I Learned After Being Threatened With Revenge Porn Tavarius / Shutterstock

I recently wrote an article titled "My Ex Threatened Me With Revenge Porn—Here's How I Stopped Him." As I did then, I will begin here by stating that I am not writing this follow-up piece in order to defend my actions or anything I wrote. Exactly the opposite.

I am writing to reaffirm my position that when you own your choices in life, no one can destroy you or your self-worth. And that even though they can't, they still don't have the right to try.


I appreciated the supportive comments left by readers on various sites, and I laughed quite a bit at both the zings to my ex-boyfriend's poor judgment and at the requests from some to see the photos in question for themselves "in order to better assess the situation." (Sorry, but no.)

As I read along, though, I found myself troubled by the number of responses oversimplifying the situation by repeating back to me what I had already said I would not accept, that I simply "should have known better."

Okay, this may have been my dad's favorite response (duh), but what bothers me is that this reaction dismisses the bad acts of a vengeful abuser.


I get it. It's far easier to point a finger at me than it is to look at the complex issues of consent, copyright laws and concerns over internet censorship.

But in shifting the blame back on me, those readers are dumping on my willingness to own my actions and share the consequences I faced in order to educate others.

When you make someone feel stupid for telling the truth, you tell them and everyone reading along that being honest is not smart. 

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Abusers count on this from both society at large and from their victim's circle of friends, in particular.


Psychotherapist Dwight Hurst gave a very funny and very insightful review of my article on his podcast "The Broken Brain," during which he addressed the dreaded question every former victim of domestic violence must face: Why didn't you leave?

Dr. Hurst explains that "leaving is one of the most dangerous times, emotionally and physically, because leaving is when an abuser is likely to do something accelerated from what they've done in the past. The more we can take the shame out of this and place the shame where it belongs—on the person perpetrating the abuse—the more we can actually deal with this problem."

Owning the truth and the responsibility for your own actions does not come without complications. A client recently went through the grueling process of a child custody evaluation. My client, the mother, took the position of considering her life an open book.

She knows that she is a solid citizen and a devoted mom. She knows that she has made her mistakes. Who hasn't? So she felt strongly that showing the evaluator both her willingness to self-reflect and her desire to learn about herself and keep growing as a person and as a mom would only be to her benefit.


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This client's ex-husband, a highly destructive, well-known narcissist, predictably refused to admit any fault or responsibility for a single action he had ever taken that may have had a negative effect on himself, his ex-wife or their children.

He placed all blame solely on his ex-wife, and even created fictitious stories to "explain" the circumstances that had brought them to the evaluator in the first place.

This evaluator, a seasoned mental health professional, must have seen through his painfully thin veil and commended the mother for standing firm for the truth, right? Especially after the psychological testing ordered showed the mother to be healthy and typical and the father to be highly disturbed. Wrong!


The evaluator (who it was discovered has quite a shady past and is yet still licensed and allowed to practice) stood by the father's baseless side of the story, despite evidence and testimony of professional educators and therapists backing up the mother, simply because it easier to side with a bully than it is to side with the bully's target.

A bully is far more likely to sue for malpractice than the bully's victim is. And a bully will keep lying at all costs until anyone who challenges his or her position has been beaten to a pulp.

As frustrating as this experience was, my client would not change the way she presented herself and I would never suggest that she should. What needs to change in these situations is not only our own willingness to live with integrity, but also the standards of integrity to which we hold the people we let into our lives.

It comes down to three simple rules:

  1. Tell the truth.
  2. Expect the truth.
  3. Release those who will do neither.

As revenge porn victim Avneet Deo wrote within a Twitter dialogue around my article, "Blamers believe they are above victimization since they aren't 'stupid' enough [to become victims themselves]." If you can convince yourself that the bully's victim is dumb and you are smart, you don't have to be scared that anything bad might come your way. Right?

Nope. I'll say it one last time: I am not sorry that I took or sent the photos. I am not ashamed. I do not blame anyone else for the existence of these photos in cyberspace. I made the choice to create them.

I did not give my ex-boyfriend to share these photos. I did not do anything that could justify his vile messages threatening to post the photos publically if I did not immediately remove my personal and business pages from Facebook, essentially a request that I dismantle my career and wipe out my existence.


I will continue to own and share my truth. Just by doing so, I win. 

Life is going to challenge me again and again, whether I cave and cower from the bullies or whether I stand tall for what I feel is right. What will make this life one I feel proud to live each day will be my willingness to own it rather than just let others push me through it.

You are not a wheelchair. Don't let yourself be pushed along.

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Arianna Jeret is a mediator & CDC Certified Divorce Coach. To learn more about her, visit her website at www.ajmediation.com, or send her an email at ajeret@ajmediation.com to set up a phone consultation.