Anger and Acceptance: How I learned to live with my nudes being on the internet forever
10th Sep 2020
In a three-part series, inspired by new Sky original show I Hate Suzie, we’ll explore the different emotions that are exposed when a life-changing event happens. Here, in part three, Megan Sims, a victim of revenge porn, describes how, four years on, she’s helping other women in similar situations by lobbying the Government to legislate against revenge porn.
Read part one here: Shock, Denial, Fear: When I saw my photos had been leaked I thought my life was over
Read part two here: Shame, Bargaining, Guilt: Why I blamed myself for taking intimate photos
Through eight episodes, we follow Billie Piper’s character in I Hate Suzie unravel after intimate photos of her with a man that wasn’t her husband are made public, and, ultimately, join her on a voyage of self-discovery.
Megan Sims, whose private photos were shared online without her consent in 2016, when she was just 19, said she had to go through the different emotions of shock and fear, guilt and shame, before she could settle in the place she now finds herself in: acceptance.
“I was angry at the person who sent them out. And I absolutely had to feel everything I was feeling at the start to get where I am today.
“But four years on, I’ve taken the power back,” says Megan.
“Honestly, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my photos are potentially out there forever.
Scroll down to watch I Hate Suzie trailer
“But I did nothing wrong. When it happened, yes, I did regret it. But when you come to terms with it and you realise ‘I’ve actually done nothing wrong’ and there’s nothing wrong with sex, it becomes about taking the blame off the victim.
“This is what it’s all about for me now, ending slut-shaming.”
Megan’s petition to make revenge porn a crime in Ireland has garnered 15,000 signatures in just a few short weeks. She is lobbying the Department of Justice and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to make revenge porn a crime.
Last year, then Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin, put forward the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017, which is a Bill entitled an Act to consolidate and reform the criminal law concerning harassment and harmful communications, to repeal certain provisions of the Post Office (Amendment) Act 1951 and the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.
Due to the Dail and Seanad being dissolved in January 2020, this Bill hasn’t made any progress.
In a statement to image.ie, the Department of Justice said it was committed to enacting the Bill.
“The Minister is currently working on measures to strengthen the criminal law in respect of harassment and harmful communications, both online and offline, to ensure that our laws reflect advances in technology and changes in the way we communicate.
The Programme for Government includes a commitment… to outlaw image-based sexual abuse and to prevent abusive sharing of intimate images online,” said the statement.
According to the statement, the Bill proposes ensuring that “communications to or about a person” are dealt with as an offence, and that “sending, distributing or publishing intimate images without consent” is introduced as an offence too.
Megan is also working on setting up a non-profit organisation to help other women, and men, who have been victims of revenge porn.
“Revenge porn should be a crime. People need to understand consent. Consent is not transferable, even if a girl has consented to upload her photos onto a website, such as OnlyFans, they are not consenting to having them shared around.
“I want to set up an organisation that teaches consent in the digital age. I want these classes taught in schools, where kids can learn about digital safety, about how to be safe when you’re online dating, meeting people off the internet.
“I want a helpline where people can receive mental health support and legal advice should this ever happen to them.”
Megan says she would rather be focusing on her studies and other things 23-year-olds are interested in.
“It’s not an empowering thing for me, it’s a frustration. I’d rather not do this at all, to be honest. But with the lack of supports available, I feel I’ve no choice,” she says.
A frustration, perhaps. But like Suzie in I Hate Suzie, Megan may have just found her calling and not even realised.
New Sky original, I Hate Suzie, is an eight-part series with all episodes available now on Sky Atlantic. It stars Billie Piper, Leila Farzad and Daniel Ings. Piper created the show with long-time friend and writer Lucy Prebble, known for Succession and Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which also starred Piper.
Catch up on our Let’s Talk Emotions virtual event, which was held on September 9, to celebrate the launch of ‘I Hate Suzie’. Watch an honest and frank conversation on exposed emotions with Daniella Moyles, Tara Stewart and Erica Cody here.
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