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After a jealous ex-boyfriend posted nude photos of her online, the Internet nearly ended her life, but Annmarie Chiarini fought back. Get an exclusive update on her now.
1. Are you currently active on Social Media? If yes, how has your online activity changed since the incident that changed your life?
Yes, I am. I have a Twitter account, website and Facebook page that I use primarily for my work with the CCRI. My online activity has increased since my ex posted the photos of me. I use the power of Social Media to forward the message that blame in cases like mine needs to be focused on the perpetrator. Sharing intimate images in the confines of a monogamous, long-term relationship is not subversive behavior. It doesn't make women sluts if they express their sexuality. It does, however, make the people who posted the images without consent criminals. I also use social media to challenge outdated gender expectations (i.e. "boys will be boys") and to show women that their voices matter. Social Media is the main platform we use to promote the services the CCRI provides and the resources we have available to victims, legislators, and the general public. And sometimes I post ridiculous pictures of my dog.
2. What type of support did you seek in the aftermath of what happened to you?
I worked with an amazing therapist (who was featured on the episode); she helped me heal from the trauma of being so deeply manipulated and betrayed. My friends (Jeff! Who was also featured on the episode) and family were invaluable sources of support. Unfortunately, the support I sought from most law enforcement merely perpetrated the prevailing attitude that the victim is to blame in crimes of a sexual nature. While there was one exception (First Sargent Reiner who was also featured in my episode), overall, my experiences with law enforcement were disheartening.
3. If you had the chance to re-do the tweet/post that changed your life, what, if anything, would you do differently?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
4. What, if any, ramifications from your incident are you still experiencing today?
Sometimes I wake up in a mild panic with the need to Google my name because I have a feeling he posted the pictures again. I've received rape and death threats after I began speaking out in the media about my experiences and lobbying for legislators to criminalize this behavior.
5. Have you had any other life-changing incidents on the Internet since the one we profiled?
Nope. Oh, wait...yes! I finally hit 350 followers on the Twitter. That's a big deal for me.
6. What advice would you give to other people on managing Social Media?
I don't know about other people, but I'll tell my children to think about what they want from Social Media. What do they expect it to do for them? Are they looking to Social Media to fulfill a need? To assuage loneliness? To garner attention? To hurt someone? Social Media is an instrument, not a substitute for real, human connections. I'll ask them to question why they want a slew of people to know of every hurt, every mood, every minute detail of their lives. I'll ask them to challenge the notion that they are trapped in a culture of over-sharing and consider their personal definitions of privacy. I'll encourage them to see themselves as more than a digitized version of themselves. Hopefully I'll be able to serve as a guide as they explore their digital kingdoms when I'm ready to hand them their keys, like, when they're 25.
7. What do you feel are positive aspects of the Internet (if any)?
There are many! It's an incredible educational tool. It's a vehicle for social change and the new platform for social justice. When my partner was deployed, the Internet kept us connected and provided me another way to support him. It bridges gaps between generations. It allows my children to explore science and culture in ways that make me envious. It brings music, movies, and art to us from anywhere in the world. It taught me how to fix my toilet.