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I wanted my ex to feel shame so I put her nude photos up online

He wanted revenge but the nude photo of his ex girlfriend he circulated got him into trouble instead. MAUREEN KOH (maureenk@sph.com.sg) talks to a man who says it was an act of sheer folly

All he wanted to do was to shame her.

His former girlfriend had refused to resume their relationship. Hurt and angry, he sent her naked photo to her and a few friends under an assumed persona.

For legal reasons, we cannot name the woman and shall call the man "John". Both are in their early 20s.

John even threatened to send the photo to her parents and more friends.

This is what experts call revenge porn. The term was made infamous in 2010 by Hunter Moore, whose website Is Anyone Up? gained international attention for publishing nude images of young girls. The photos were gleaned from the cellphone archives of spurned ex-boyfriends.

The site often included victims' identifying information, such as names, employers and even addresses.

Psychologist Richard Lim says that often, jilted men resort to revenge porn because they want to vent their rage over being rejected.

He adds: "A woman's modesty may seem the easiest way to target, it's where they are most vulnerable."

Britain is now considering outlawing revenge porn, said Justice Secretary Chris Grayling on July 1.

In Singapore, one can be charged under several laws, including electronically transmitting obscene objects, insulting a woman's modesty and, if a threat was made, criminal intimidation.

In John's case, his ex-girlfriend made a police report and he was apprehended.

He is still serving his probation sentence. He has also been ordered to perform community service.

The New Paper on Sunday caught up with John last week after he had finished two hours of community service.

John says ruefully: "I wanted to shame my ex-girlfriend. But I ended up shaming myself and my family members."

He buries his face in his hands briefly, then looks up with a wry smile.

"My father was so furious with me and my mother constantly broke into tears from the time the police came knocking on our door until the trial," he says.

It was a moment of folly that he emphasises no man should succumb to.

John says: "It doesn't matter how angry you feel when your girl rejects you. It doesn't matter how much you think she has hurt you.

"The minute you give in to your hate and anger, you are screwing with your own life."

He declines to provide details on the past relationship, except that they had been dating for a couple of years before breaking up.

But several months after their break-up, they met again and ended up having sex. It was then that he took a picture of her.

"At that time, I only wanted the photo as a sweet memento of my first love," he claims.

"I didn't take it with any intention of hurting her."

He admits that he was lucky he managed to escape going to jail.

"I was warned and was also mentally prepared that I could be sentenced up to one year, other than being fined," he recalls.

"I could not sleep the whole week before the hearing and I kept worrying over my future if I ended up in jail."

When the case made local headlines, some of his "old-time" friends even called him up "just to poke fun" at him.

"They laughed in my face at my stupidity and made so many hurtful comments. But I could not blame them because I was really the stupid one," he says quietly.

He turned into a semi-recluse and avoided going out to meet friends. He says: "I felt ashamed of what I had done and I don't think I could stand more friends mocking me."

John is now taking small steps towards rebuilding his life. For a start, he is taking on part-time jobs - he doesn't dare to try applying for a full-time job because he dreads bringing up the past.

"I need a lot of courage, which I hope I will gradually muster. For now, I will just have to rely on my parents and the few really true friends who have not given up on me," he says.

Friends 'liked' her nude photos

The first victim, who wants to be known only as Ellen, did not even find out about it until nearly a week later.

By then, her ex-boyfriend had shared six of her naked photos on his Facebook account. He had more than 300 friends.

The man also tagged her in two of the photos, which made them accessible to her own 250-odd Facebook friends.

Ellen, 23, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "No one alerted me to it and I found out only through the notification after I had logged into my Facebook account.

"About 30 friends had actually liked the photos and not said anything to me.

"I'm not a regular user, so it was quite late by then."

Ellen admits that all the photos were taken with her knowledge.

"They were taken by my ex when we were both still dating and to be honest, I had forgotten all about them," she says.

She and her ex-boyfriend dated for three years before splitting last January.

Ellen had been the one to call off the relationship as she felt that he was too possessive.

"I had to report every moment to him and he would call me at odd times just to check where I was. That irritated me a lot," she says.

"We kept trying to make it work with his constant promises that he would change, but it was still the same after one year."

Fed-up, she suggested that they break up.

A week after her "final decision", he shared Ellen's photos.

After she found out, her mother and elder brother accompanied her to confront the man at his home.

"At first, he kept denying it in front of his parents and two younger sisters," says Ellen.

"In the end, I had no choice but to log into my Facebook account and call up the photos to prove that he was lying.

"I was so embarrassed but I felt I needed to take action before it became worse."

Her ex-boyfriend's father "hammered him in front of us", she recalls.

In the end, the younger man deleted all the photos and even shut down his Facebook account.

She didn't make a police report.

Ellen says: "I chose to move on and forgive him. I also shut down my old Facebook account and opened a new one with a more stringent privacy setting."


She regrets provoking ex-boyfriend

Miss Joan Tan, 29, had taken nude and intimately-posed photos with her former boyfriend of five years.

But in the last year of their relationship, she cheated on him.

Miss Tan, a telemarketing executive, says: "He was hurt and angry when he found out, but he wanted to give our relationship another go.

"But I told him I wanted to break up and I think that hurt him even more."

After trying unsuccessfully to make up, Miss Tan's ex-boyfriend decided to change tack.

He shared photos which they had taken when they were together, uploading two a day.

Miss Tan says: "At first, they were innocent photos and he'd write stuff like, 'I miss our days together'. But I retaliated by putting up photos of my new boyfriend and I on dates."

The revenge, she says, was such a silly move. It provoked him into turning offensive and he started to share the more salacious photos of them together.

He even "marked" dates to reflect that she had been two-timing.

Miss Tan says: "I was shocked. And my new boyfriend was so angry that he broke up with me."

Her own revenge had backfired.

"I wanted to hurt him. He hurt me in return. And another innocent party was also hurt in the process," says Miss Tan.

Her ex-boyfriend removed the photos after he learnt of the break up.

She recalls one line she read in the newspapers on a revenge porn case and quotes Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Wilson Lim.

She says: "He advised the public not to put themselves in compromising situations which may make them vulnerable to blackmail.

"All I can say is that he is right."

Punishments for revenge porn in different countries

SINGAPORE

■ Maximum penalty for electronically transmitting obscene objects: A jail term up to three months and/or a fine

■ Insulting a woman's modesty: A jail term of up to a year and a fine

■ Criminal intimidation: Up to two years' jail and/or a fine

BRITAIN

Angry lovers who post naked images of former partners on the Internet without their consent could face prosecution, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said July 1.

"The government is very open to having a serious discussion about this with a view to taking appropriate action in the autumn if we can identify the best way of doing so."

US

Several states have made it a crime to post sexually explicit or nude images of people online without their consent, amid growing anger towards websites dedicated to publishing such content, often submitted by ex-partners.

In 2004, New Jersey made it illegal to post explicit pictures without the pictured person's consent.

Last year, California banned the posting of images for the purpose of harassing the pictured individual. Offenders face a maximum six-month prison term or a fine of US$1,000 (S$1,242).

In May, Arizona became the 10th state to outlaw "revenge porn". Other states include Idaho, Utah, Virginia, Georgia and Wisconsin.

JAPAN

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party in February set up a special committee to discuss ways to criminalise and penalise revenge porn, reported digital Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun AJW.