Revenge porn victim fights, waits, heals

Holly Jacobs is hopeful Maryland will pass a law making \'revenge porn\' a felony (Photo courtesy M.A. Williams)
'I wish we could pass these bills faster, but we can't'

Neal Augenstein | November 15, 2014 12:04 am

WASHINGTON – Holly Jacobs is through with “the horrible feelings I felt” after an ex-boyfriend posted her intimate photos and videos on Facebook and a revenge porn website.

Jacobs, who last year told WTOP she “was completely devastated when I first found the pictures” is now hopeful Maryland will soon pass a law that would make the non-consensual release of explicit images a felony.

Currently, New Jersey is the only state where posting revenge porn is a felony.

Maryland Delegate Jon Cardin has introduced a bill that would make it a felony to intentionally disclose in a public way, on the Internet or otherwise, sexually explicit images of a person without that person’s permission.

It would be punishable by up to five years in prison, or a $25,000 fine, or both.

“We’ve done everything we can to get the wording as strong as possible to make sure it provides comprehensive coverage to all the victims,” says Jacobs, whose group Cyber Civil Rights Initiative worked with Cardin on the bill.

“I wish we could pass these bills faster, but we can’t,” says Jacobs.

Annmarie Chiarini, a victim advocate with Jacobs’ group has described discovering her nude photos had been posted online as “dehumanizing.”

“But rather than hiding in shame I am choosing to speak out and see the laws in Maryland and other states changed,” said Chiarini.


Fighting and healing

Jacobs tells WTOP starting the campaign against revenge porn has helped her heal from what she endured.

“Telling my story over and over and over again to the media has really completely desensitized me from the horrible feelings I had in association with my victimization,” Jacobs says.

She says since 2011 she has been dating a man who is supportive of her advocacy efforts.

Jacobs, earned her PhD while trying to remove her images from the Internet. She eventually changed her name after the invasion of privacy.

“At this point, I’m a healed victim,” Jacobs says.

Advocating for states to toughen laws against cyber sexual harassment is freeing Jacobs from her painful past.

“I’ve come from being a victim to being the head of an organization and a campaign, and I’m trying to get used to that position and do what is called for, and try to balance everything in my life.

Jacobs says her former boyfriend posted her photos in 2009, however criminal charges against her former boyfriend were eventually dropped by Hillsborough County, Fla. prosecutors.

Jacobs’ civil suit against the former boyfriend is ongoing.


Future alliances with technology companies

Holly Jacobs says the quickly-moving world of technology contributes to revenge porn.

“That’s one of the problems we’ve always been up against and one of the reasons revenge porn has been allowed to flourish, because the laws are not keeping up with technology,” Jacobs says.

Jacobs says her group has not yet approached technology companies to work together against the porn problem.

“It’s certainly something that we would like to do and something that’s on our to- do list,” says Jacobs.

She wants to “reach out to the companies that are making it easy for revenge porn perpetrators to harass and abuse their victims and tell them what they’re facilitating and try to work out some way to stop it.”

“I think we have come a long way, and people are definitely recognizing this is an issue that needs to be addressed,” says Jacobs, “but we still are having problems with people rushing to blame the victim.”

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPtech on Twitter.


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