My story: Revenge porn almost killed me

“There is no area of my life has not touched,” says Chrissy Rooms, reflecting on the secret sex tape with her ex-boyfriend posted online.

“Has affected my life in every way imaginable and I’m sure will continue to do so for the rest of my life.”

During her four-year legal battle against the man – who cannot be named for legal reasons – Ms Rooms went from YouTube musician to “revenge porn” activist.

Here, she tells her story to the BBC’s Jane Wakefield.

JW: How did you find before the video was uploaded?

DC: initially I found out through a friend and a fan who wrote to us and said: “I just want to warn you that someone is spreading these links.”

Someone was distributing the link of our YouTube channel, saying: “You think Chrissy Chambers is a role model? In reality she is a whore, watch these videos.”

I clicked the link and then realized for the first time what had happened. I literally fell to the ground and I felt like I was getting hit with a baseball bat.

To discover that the video did not exist, and to discover that this had happened at all, it was like my world collapsed.

How has it influenced your life?

In every way imaginable. I have PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], I became an alcoholic at 23. I almost died. I have had depression, anxiety, sleep. It has affected my relationship.

We [Chrissy and partner Bria Kam] had a successful YouTube channel, at that point, and had approximately 50,000 young women, who had joined us, and looking for ourselves.

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Some of them, he said: “I looked so much, I can’t support a person that you choose to do this.”

It was heartbreaking for me – but knowing that I had all these other people, who has loved us and supported us, I felt a great responsibility to stand up for myself and ask for justice.

I wanted to set an example in the case where this has ever happened to them.

You live in the United States, but the videos have been loaded in the UNITED kingdom, so that your case has been fought here. What is success?

My ex uploaded the video before the [revenge porn] law was passed here in the UK.

I have been here in the UK, the day the law passed, and we went to the police to seek criminal charges. They said the statute of limitations in my case it was long passed and I was not going to be able to pursue criminal charges

Then there was a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for a civil case.

We raised the money in a month. The public’s reaction to the situation was an outpouring of love and support – and also the horror of the situation.

I won a compensation in the money from my ex, in addition to being assigned copyright to the video. That was the most important piece of the puzzle, because if these videos are to never share again, now I can go to the sites directly and send a takedown notice or to continue the legal action.

We spent four-and-a-half-year struggle to obtain the right to obtain the video. It simply means everything.

Money is important, too. Since coming to the anonymity, there needed to be some reparation for the suffering and all of the therapy and the things we had to go through.

The real victory for me has always been the justice and setting a precedent for others.

You have the contact of the web sites above to get the video? That what he said?

If websites actually responded, that would be great. When I reached in the past, I have had no response.

It wasn’t until when we sent a letter to a lawyer that some of the videos started to come down.

I would like to see these sites require a consent document for the uploaded videos, and a much better system for takedown notices. If someone says that a video was not consensual, it should go down quickly to protect the victim.

You became a prominent figure to combat revenge porn. What would you say to other victims?

I would say to other victims who may not have the confidence and I don’t know what to do about the continuation, that I know exactly how you feel.

I have been there. There are many days when I don’t feel safe to continue to fight.

Justice can be served. I finally learned that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Do not give up hope.

Even if it takes years you can get justice and do not deserve to have this happen to you.