I remember the day I sat on the steps of the City-County Building in Pittsburgh, journaling my dreams, just days before our historic March Against Revenge Porn and rally last year. I began collecting signatures to support Senator, now presidential candidate, Kamala Harris’s E.N.O.U.G.H. Act that would criminalize revenge porn on a federal level. We are now throwing our full support behind Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Act.
What is revenge porn? It’s the act of posting or sharing sexually explicit images or videos of a person, typically by a former partner, without the knowledge or consent of the subject to cause them distress, harm or embarrassment.
It’s become my life’s mission to give voice and dignity to victims through my social justice and multimedia project 50 Shades of Silence.
I wore many hats in that four-day stretch of filming for my new documentary as director and producer, march organizer, activist and recovering victim. It seemed then, and even now, somewhat surreal, daunting and daring, scary and somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. I was still battling my own personal and court issues, dealing with the ugliness of revenge porn and cyber harassment. Yet I know that “this” was my “for such a time as this” moment in my life. I now fully respect the question that I asked myself, that has forever changed my life, “Who do I need to become now?”
Making a film is probably one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life (I thought being an entrepreneur was the biggest course in self-development!): 14 days of shooting, what feels like 100 hours of editing, with so much left on the cutting room floor, I’ve struggled with what to save for my first short documentary 50 Shades of Silence.
This process has opened my eyes to so many amazing things, not only my own resilience and courage and commitment but to an ever-greater experience of just how powerful it is when we make a decision to be of influence in the world.
I met so many brave and gifted women who are standing in their power of leadership, influence and impact. They are using their own experiences to propel them forward and not keep them down.
If you are facing your “for such a time as this” in life, in the way that Esther did in the Bible, be absolutely confident in your knowing that “this” is happening for you and not to you. Use “this” as your opportunity to rise in your own purpose and passion. Choose ‘“this” as your opportunity to live fully and to be of great good in the world.
I finally won my landmark international revenge porn case, with the help of Homeland Security Investigators, The Jamaican Constabulary Force, and The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution in Jamaica. My ex-boyfriend plead guilty to three of the six charges brought against him for filming me naked without my knowledge or permission, harassing me and others with the explicit photos and videos, and then posting them to the internet. This two-year court fight and victory set history and precedence in Jamaica for an American citizen to bring charges under their Malicious Communications Act and Cyber Crimes and win.
We cannot see the end of things from the middle, and we must walk in faith and not by sight as we journey into what’s next in our lives. I hold true to this belief and for good reasons, because living and loving the journey is more important than getting to the destination.
To find out more about 50 Shades of Silence, the documentary, resources for victims and advocacy work go to 50ShadesofSilence.com