Scotland

Victim's warning after finding revenge porn from 'every UK city'

file sharing victim

A woman who changed her name and moved cities to escape the scourge of revenge porn has issued a warning.

Mikala Monsoon has waived her right to anonymity as a victim of crime after discovering her images on a website containing folders full of women "from every city in the UK".

She says enough is enough and she wants the crime taken seriously.

Police Scotland are now investigating the file sharing website containing explicit images of women.

Mega.nz is a file-sharing website where people can share large collections of images, files and videos.

The website says it does not tolerate any illegal activity and its standard procedure is to disable the link and close the user's account.

Ms Monsoon was sent a link to the site by a concerned former school friend.

Image caption The site featured folders named by UK towns and cities

She told BBC Scotland's The Nine: "There were two links. The first was girls in Scotland and had 146 names - one of which was my old name.

"Some had more images than others.

"There was another folder and instead of 146 names it had every city in the UK as an individual folder with sub-folders inside there. So this could be hundreds or thousands of people."

Ms Monsoon did not give her consent for the photos to be shared and is concerned others may not have either.

The photographs were not explicit, and she says she was oddly relieved.

'Intimate images'

"I was relieved because it was my old name and the photos were old and quite unrecognisable," she said. "But I was very angry for the other people involved. I felt the need to speak out about it because it has happened so many times and some attention should be brought to this.

"It is not being dealt with properly."

The shared content included selfies, but also intimate, nude content. Some of the folders give away full names and locations of the women.

Ms Monsoon decided to speak out because it was the latest in a number of incidents she has endured over the past six years.

Intimate images taken of her when she was 17 were shared and the pictures kept reappearing in different places. She changed her name by deed poll and started a new life in a different city to escape them.

She said: "I've been featured on many websites, including this new one called Mega. I have been featured on a porn site, and on a forum board on reddit.com, one of the biggest sites on the internet."

She said she has experienced anxiety and felt ashamed and degraded in the past but now she is angry that the issue is not being dealt with properly.

"This first happened when I was very young and I thought my life was over. I worried about my family and what other people would think because the victims are blamed rather than the people spreading it. Lives are being torn apart by this."

Ms Monsoon is trying to help other victims and has set up the website revengeonrevengeporn.com to highlight the issue.

BBC
This isn't just fun and games and leaking some saucy pictures. This is stuff that will make people lose their entire will to live. It's serious
Mikala Monsoon
Revenge porn victim

Through this, women featured on the Mega site have contacted her.

"It does - for many people - follow them around for their entire lives," she said.

"It affects their relationships, their careers, their opportunities."

She revealed: "I've had people message me who are lawyers, nursery school teachers, and they say their lives are going to be ruined by this. And I've had people message me to say their friends have taken their own lives because of things like this.

"This isn't just fun and games and leaking some saucy pictures. This is stuff that will make people lose their entire will to live. It's serious."


Intimate photo sharing: The law

Image copyright PA

Across England, Wales and Scotland, revenge porn is a specific criminal offence. (Northern Ireland is preparing amendments to include it in its Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill.)

It's described as "the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress".

The offence covers photos or videos showing people engaged in sexual activity which would not usually be done in public, or with their genitals, buttocks or breasts exposed or covered only with underwear.

It includes sharing the material as well as posting it online.

In England and Wales, the maximum punishment is two years in prison - in Scotland, it's five years.


Anyone who discovers they have photos should report it to police.

And Ms Monsoon believes those affected have to stop blaming themselves.

She said: "It's not your fault. The shame should rest only with the culprits.

"A lot of the content is taken by someone else, completely unbeknownst to the victim in question. This ties in with all rape culture, and that should be highlighted - consent is being ignored more and more.

"We can't allow them to win."

Det Supt Gordon McCreadie from Police Scotland said: "Perpetrators often share, or threaten to share images as a way of trying to impose power and control over their victims in what can be an absolute betrayal of trust. There is under-reporting of non consensual sharing of intimate images, perhaps because people may feel embarrassed.

"What I would say to victims is don't be embarrassed - the police are not here to judge the way in which you conduct your personal life.

"Police Scotland remains committed to robustly investigating these matters. We encourage victims to come forward early which will better enable us to get evidence from any devices, or provide support to them, and advise how best to minimise impact."


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