I was a victim of revenge porn and now I want to warn young people about it

I want to stand up and tell people what happened to me

When Folami Prehaye broke up with her boyfriend last year, she could never have imagined the nightmare that would follow.

In a bitter rage, Folami’s ex, Thomas Samuel, posted intimate pictures of her on Facebook and porn sites as a twisted payback for being dumped.

His actions made her feel humiliated and violated — but she wanted to turn her experience around and now encourages other victims of revenge porn to come forward and share what happened to them.

Coming from Bristol, Folami has set up a campaign called VOIC, Victims of Internet Crime and aims to tell her story at unis and schools to warn young people about the dangers of revenge porn.

We spoke to her about her story and plans to change the way we think about taking and sharing personal photographs.

Folami Prehaye appeared on ITV's This Morning to talk about revenge porn

Folami Prehaye appeared on ITV’s This Morning to talk about revenge porn

Folami, 44, said: “I want to go to universities and tell people about the dangers of revenge porn.

“I want to do interactive talks with students and get young people together around this issue.

“Young people growing up in the digital world are more likely to be victims of revenge porn. We have loads of different apps to share information and pictures.

“If you’re raised with this technology you feel safe with it but you need to be made aware of the consequences of sharing a picture.”

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Folami hopes to set up round-table discussions to get students talking, after her own experiences of having her photos leaked online.

Ex-boyfriend Thomas uploaded naked pictures of Folami onto a spoof Facebook profile of her and sent links to her family and friends.

In two separate visits to the police, she had to go through each picture in front of an officer to show him the Facebook and porn URLs to remove.

“The easy part was coming forward. The hardest part, the worst part was the aftermath.

“What you have to do is contact the police and go in to show them each photo you want taken down. I had to sit in front of the police guy and show him the pictures my boyfriend put on Facebook.

“I had to blank out that. I’ve had children, I’ve had nurses and doctors looking at intimate parts of me, during smear tests and stuff like that. I thought of those when I was going through the pictures with the police: ‘If I have to do something about it and if this is how it has to happen, okay, I’ll deal with it’.

“I had to explain the explicity [sic] of each picture and what was in it before showing the police.

“Then I was alerted by my employers my photos were still up on porn sites. When I finally Googled my name, I saw. I didn’t even know about the porn sites before but now I had to go back to the police and do it all again.

“That was my evidence. It was hard. You can’t even imagine. I never wanted to see that man again.”

Thomas Samuel

Thomas Samuel

After she gave an impact statement and her ex was given a six month suspended sentence, she set up a site to cope with her experience.

“I set up VOIC out of anger. I was angry about what happened to me. I wanted to stand up and tell people what happened to me. I thought, ‘If I do that, other people might come forward’.

“It’s not right. It shouldn’t be allowed. It is a crime. I was thinking about how my ex humiliated me like that and I came up with the idea of ‘voice’ when I was in and out of sleep.

“VOIC is an information platform and support mechanism. If you keep suffering inside you, it will eat you away. People need to release. Writing and talking takes a whole weight off you.

“It was almost like freedom. And I’m not the only person this has happened to — loads of people have come forward.

“It’s not only women it affects. It is mainly women, but a man got in touch with me recently to say it had happened to him.

“I’m now hoping to generate funds to take my project to the next level. I want to educate people, young people about this.”

Earlier this month, the government passed new laws to dish out sentences of up to two years for revenge porn offenders.

They also launched a new helpline to help the growing numbers of people coping with their pictures being leaked online.

Laura Higgins, who works at the South West Grid for Learning helpline says ex-partners can be motivated to put pictures up for revenge.

“It’s funny, it’s easy to do but has maximum impact and effect. This isn’t new, there are just more of these dedicated sites out there.

“Revenge porn can make victims near-suicidal, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and end up on medication.

“It’s not just ex-partners doing it though. When you take your phone in to be mended, intimate pictures may be taken off it, your laptop can be hacked, people can be filmed in their houses, storing your images online means they can be taken: the iCloud incident was a high profile example.

“We don’t want to say, ‘Don’t take images’ because that’s unrealistic and not very supportive. We advise caution if the devices are leaving your custody and be very careful.”

Folami wants to continue helping young people and students confront their experiences.

“We need to raise awareness on this kind of level, talking is very important. Now I don’t care what anybody else thinks. This is my story, whether you look it or not.”

The government helpline is 0845 6000 459 and their site is here.

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