I failed to consider two things that fateful night when I logged on to Omegle. com. One, that the electricity in our home was out, and my room, like everything else was shrouded in darkness. Two, my bedroom door was in fact, wide open, not securely shut. So while I was busy texting strangers about all that they might do to my pussy, I did not realise my father had entered the room was watching me for a few minutes.
What followed was almost a physical fight, where he tried to grab my laptop from me, and I did my best to shut it all down. My parents couldn’t for the life of them understand how I could do something so stupid as exchange sexual messages with strangers on the internet. They confiscated my laptop, installed god knows how many parental control features on to it, and attempted to be physically present anytime I dared venture on to the internet.
To them, this was a problem with me specifically. They refused to acknowledge the normalisation of sex and ones need for sexual interactions in teenage communities.
Parents have drilled it into our heads, and told us until our ears bled about the dangers of being a sexual being online. “Never post sexy pictures, its on the internet for ever!”, “I don’t care if you trust them with your life, never take or send nude pictures, you will have no control over it afterwards!”.
All of this is true. The dangers of the internet ranges from losing your reputation, being blackmailed, to losing your life. Yet we all do it.
Frankly, I believe cyber safety, and sexual exploitation through the internet is much like sexual exploitation in real life, a betrayal of trust and a violation of consent.
Yes, definitely the internet has created sexting, nudes, and dick pics, making sexual exploitation, as well as enjoyment far more convenient than ever before. However, the solution to this will never be to not send naked images or suggestive texts. Any such solutions which shifts the responsibility to the victim of the crime is relying on the regressive ideas of victim blaming and slut shaming.
Consensually sent and received sexts are a normal and healthy part of relationships. It is no different from sending love letter in the pre internet era. However, we have all heard stories of girls nudes being leaked by their former boyfriends i.e. revenge porn.
When this occurs in a school setting, very often the harshest consequences befall the victim. It is her reputation that is ruined, it is she who will have to move schools, while the aggressor most often is simply suspended for a semester or two.
Further, because the act of taking and sending nudes takes more agency than the traditional exploitations of rape and such, the victim too must be held responsible.
These kind of stories will not abate until and unless we shift the emphasis from the fact that nudes got leaked to someone leaked nudes. It is the gore violation of trust and human dignity that we should rage against, not the misfortune that befell the victim.
Nevertheless, there are ways and means to be safer while sharing your nudes on the internet.
The first and foremost will be to only ever send them to those you have absolute trust in. However, we can never predict a persons actions in the future. So the second best path is to ensure that no-one will ever be able to identify a nude as yours. Beyond not including your face in the picture, and taking it against an anonymous backdrop, this link provides instructions on how to make your pictures as antonymous as you can.
However, much of online exploitation occurs as a result of grooming. Grooming is when an older, authoritative figure spends extensive time gaining the trust and emotional connection with a minor to eventually manipulate and exploit them.
Because all your interactions with this person would be online, and hence hidden from all those around you, there is little chance of either you or others recognising it for what it is. I personally used to gain a lot of comfort in the fact that anyone I sexually interacted with was in a very temporary manner. By using sites such as Omegle, I would have some relative anonymity, and I would never be able to reconnect with someone unless we shared personal information. This limited their access to me, and hence their influence.
To end with, here is some information on what one can do if your nudes have been leaked, or if someone is blackmailing you with them, including the legalities of of it. However, the most important thing is to tell someone you trust, create a support system which will ensure you have avenues to turn to.
Furthermore, if you see any videos or pictures of the pornographic nature online, which you believe to be non consensual, or of a minor, report it here.
Do parents know Omegle happened to us or are they still in the dark about that whole thing?
— Haley Payne (@Haypayne10) December 18, 2018