When I was 16 I had a boyfriend who was 19. His name was Chris. But one day he did something that ended up changing my life forever – and I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same again.
It’s been three years since we broke up but I still feel used every day. Why? Because Chris uploaded a video of us having sex to a porn site. He’s now on the Sex Offenders’ Register because of what he did, while I’m barely the same person I was before.
We first met online – on social media, actually. It was because we both followed the same band’s page and one day he just messaged me. That was cool, though, as it was the sort of thing people did – get in touch, chat about music, just generally get to know each other.
Everyone on that page ultimately had something in common.
I loved my friends but we didn’t always share the same interests – so it was cool to speak to people online about my passions and escape for a little while each day. I enjoyed it. The internet felt like a very important part of my life growing up and it didn’t feel weird messaging strangers. Loads of my friends were doing the same – we used to talk about it a lot at college.
It seemed like a normal part of life.
Some guys did use social media as a place to try to chat me up. I was quite good at batting that sort of stuff away but it could also feel kind of nice to get the attention if the guys were similar in age to me.
I remember Chris was good looking – I could tell from his profile pictures. After we began talking for a bit we started off sharing pictures. You know, just selfies of smiley faces and things like that.
But it wasn’t long until he began asking for more sexual pics – like, of me posing or naked. At first I wasn’t sure, it felt weird but then he sent me some and said I should do it as he’d already done the same for me.
He kept saying that it wasn’t a big deal and that everyone was doing it. So eventually I sent some.
Our relationship moved offline and we met up in person and soon after we started going out properly, like boyfriend and girlfriend. Chris lived a few miles away and had a car – which I thought was cool. We went on dates and, later on we had sex. Sure, he was a bit older – but we were close enough in age for it to feel fine. My parents were cool about it.
I remember when his tone changed. Like it was quite scary and controlling - I felt really uncomfortable. He said he wanted to film us having sex. Yeah, I let him film us.
I remember clearly when everything came crashing down. One of my friends, a guy, messaged me. He had seen a video online that Chris had filmed of us having sex. The vid had made it onto a pretty well-known porn site I think.
I felt physically sick, confused, not knowing what to do. It was just worst feeling.
From then on in I became lonely and isolated. I wanted to escape it all, but couldn’t even leave the house. My friends were understanding, but I didn’t want to talk about it. I was so embarrassed. I felt ashamed and so alone because I didn’t know who else had ever been through something like that.
Telling my parents was hard – they could see from my downturn at college that something was up. I was so lacking in confidence and so scarred that I had to get professional counselling. That was when the police got involved.
I didn’t want to press any changes – I sort of loved Chris – but the police officer involved in the case told me that what Chris had done was illegal. They also said anyone who looks at those images of me online is committing a crime, because I was under 18 at the time he filmed and uploaded it. That was a real shock.
Just knowing that someone could be looking at a video of me online at any time makes me feel sick and used over again.
I feel angry towards the guys looking, they’re an abuser like Chris and may as well have been in the room at the time.
I’ll never get over knowing that that video of me and Chris will be out there online forever and I hate that I can’t change that.
If you have been affected by any of these issues, more information and support can be found here.
This story is based on the experiences of real victims who suffered online sexual abuse while aged under-18.