Trigger warning: This is going to be a series of posts about domestic abuse, and things that have occurred to me in recent years. I am not going to name people, I am not going to give details. It’s simply to try and identify where - I believe - the system is failing to sign post and help people in these situations, and I am writing this to both hopefully help others in the same (or similar) situations, but also to try and give myself somewhere to … order my thoughts
A long time ago now, after I separated from my ex-wife, I got involved with someone who revenge porned me after we went our separate ways. They posted intimate images, and a video, online - on the most often used platform it seems for this, OnlyFans - for profit. Months after they had done this, I accidentally discovered this after having started speaking again and was, I believe rightly, rather horrified. Confrontation and short deliberation ensued, but I ended up reporting it to the police - this is a decision I’ve questioned repeatedly since, but I keep coming back to the conclusion it was the right thing to do. You never know if this sort of incident will be repeated, or if blackmail will occur, or a million other possibilities once you open this can of worms, and it is at this point you need assistance.
Or so I thought.
Having to regail your life story, including the violation of having intimate images exposed on the internet without your permission while sitting in a police interview room to someone who didn’t really have a clue about the actual way these things happen was just the beginning of this sordid tale. I wish it had been the only element, the end, but it wasn’t. Part of that is my own fault, part of it is not. But at this point in the process, I had absolutely no idea of the storm that was to come, or the fact that it would take over two years for this relatively simple incident to be dealt with.
I should give a little back story on it all; the individual that I shared a house with for a few months, where they got this material, turned out to be someone who lied, manipulated and was generally … and exceptionally untrustworthy person in almost every aspect you can imagine. But they were also one of the most adept at spinning stories and convincing you that you are wrong, and their version is correct - gaslighting. Before moving in together, I’d known them for a little while, so had little reason to entirely believe that this was the case, so took everything at face value but doing so was my downfall. At the time they started a process of isolation, something I didn’t see or believe until many months after and looking back over things, working to break me off from speaking to friends, family and my - at the time extremely difficult relationship - ex-wife. It all came to a head around June / July that year when they had one of many faked attempted suicides (these happened frequently when it seemed they wanted attention) and I gave up and called 999 as I wasn’t sure that time - but this time, they accused me of hurting them. Cue the police turning up, and accusations being made; I still have the messages they sent me at the time where they were saying the police were threatening to take me into custody - and I literally responded “Do it. I have nothing to hide, I have done nothing wrong.” After all that, the police asked me what I wanted to happen … I said I wanted her out of the house. She was advised to leave otherwise they would be back to remove her - and that was it, they left - and so did she.
It was in the three or four months after this that OnlyFans was fed snippets of me.
Revenge Porn, or the sharing of explicit images without consent, is an offence in Scotland. It is an offence in England and Wales, and most likely in many other countries around the world.
Here in Scotland it actually is now, when prosecuted, supposed to be aggressively punished given it is an offence that is on the rise thanks to the prevalence of social media, smart phones and the “sex positive” nature that we seem to be instilling into everyday life (no, I’m not an old prude, but looking back over it all, perhaps as a society we do have some degree of blame with the rise in this?).
I have also come to realise something else throughout all this - and I have barely touched on a fraction of what has happened in the above - there is a massive bias against female on male domestic abuse (which this all falls under) and so few of the services are even set up, or capable of understanding the impact it has. This makes me question their efficacy for male on female cases in some respects given the attitudes I’ve received when dealing with people: which has ranged from the “just shrug it off you are a guy” to downright laughing in my face.
I am only touching a tiny part of the domestic abuse spectrum and it’s depressing. I dread to think how people, both men and women, feel who ACTUALLY have to suffer full abuse feel when they are unable to properly reach out and get the help they need. Be it from services they should be able to trust, such as the police, or the courts. One of the few services that has been helpful has been the Domestic Abuse Advocacy Support Service and they have been working with me to ensure my safety, that court reports are completed and things keep moving forward - because this case is only one of several that I have now ended up with, all around this.