When Revenge isn't so Sweet!

Author: Meg Fansler

According to a study conducted by Data & Society and the Center for Innovative Public Health Research, 1 in 25 Americans experience being threatened with the distribution of their private sexually explicit content or, unfortunately, become victims of the threat without their consent. This act is better known as revenge porn, and currently, 38 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws criminalizing the behavior. All too often, we see headlines of a celebrity’s private photos being leaked into the media, showing that anyone is susceptible to becoming a victim. For those who upload the material, their goal may be to ruin reputations and humiliate the victim. However, one woman’s story of triumph over these challenges was the catalyst for change and can bring hope to other victims of this damaging crime.

Today, Chrissy Chambers is a successful Youtube musician with her wife, Bria, sharing their music, comedy skits, and LGBTQ-related videos in hopes of promoting self-love and self-acceptance to their 800,000+ subscribers. Among these fun videos, they also upload daily video blogs and personal videos about past experiences, one major topic being about Chambers’ experience as a victim of revenge porn and the lasting effects of the trauma. As their Youtube career was being established in 2013, Chambers received messages from a friend and fans making her aware of Internet links being shared of a past sexual encounter of her that was filmed by an ex-boyfriend. Upon opening the links, Chambers discovered videos of her being sexually assaulted while unconscious, being filmed at an angle to clearly identify her face while the perpetrator masked his own, and including her full name and age on the video. She discovered that the links had been distributed to over 30 pornography websites at that point. Chambers has intimately detailed the damaging effects of the trauma on her Youtube channel, including the development of PTSD, alcoholism and overdosing, depression, anxiety, and night terrors, with these effects having spilled into and challenged her current relationship.

In 2015 in the UK where these videos were uploaded, laws were passed that made the uploading of sexually explicit content without both parties’ consent illegal. However, these specific videos were posted in 2011, and this case did not qualify under the law, preventing Chambers from seeking criminal charges. However, she was able to raise money to move forward with a civil case, suing her ex-boyfriend for “harassment, breach of confidence and misuse of private information…”. After a four-year-long battle in 2017, she successfully won monetary damages and the copyright to all of the videos. With this privilege, she can contact websites that contain the videos to have them taken down or pursue legal charges. Chambers’ case was the first civil case of revenge porn introduced in the UK and will continue to be an example for the country and the world. After settling the case, Chambers proposed to her now-wife on the steps of the courthouse, adding the cherry on top to an already monumental day.

When interviewed about what kept her going throughout the arduous process, she answered that the hope for justice to be served was her motivation. She admitted that some days her confidence for justice was challenged, but her desire to be an example for her fans going through the same experience outweighed the hopelessness. In her speech given to UK’s Parliament representatives and lawmakers at the first Revenge Porn Seminar, she is quoted saying that she wanted to share her story “…to help other victims overcome the shame of revenge pornography to seek justice and to compel those behind the law to hold perpetrators responsible to the severest degree…”. For the future, she wants to see websites change their protocols for uploading, specifically stricter consent rules and more expedient takedown for videos where both parties did not give consent. Although the psychological effects of this event still touch aspects of Chambers’ life every day, hopefully, this closing of that chapter of her life can bring her peace and begin the recovery process. Her bravery to come forward with her story is exemplary and has forever positively changed the way victims, and lawmakers respond to the act of revenge porn.

Ashleigh Diserio Consulting works with individuals and organizations, assisting them in gleaning insight into a person’s life, motivation, and past and future behavior, so certain areas of behavior can be understood with a high degree of accuracy. We provide services in the areas of criminal and intelligence investigations, management support, threat assessment, insider threat support, and education and training.