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Revenge Porn: KTUL Investigates

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There's a growing problem in Oklahoma that is affecting our children, sisters and friends.

It's a problem that's surfaced in the last few years that thrives on isolation and secrecy: revenge porn.

"In my bed at night, searching, searching, searching to try to find more pictures, more websites to see where all I am," said Heavin Taylor.

From the safety of her home, Heavin shared her story with Tulsa's Channel 8. Sitting in front of her was a regular computer, but to Heavin, it's a gateway to something much darker.

"Your mind goes blank, it's like staring at a train that's coming at you. Is this still happening? It's bigger than me and you can't get away from it," said Heavin.

Pulling out her phone, Heavin read some of the messages she receives from strangers weekly and daily, after someone she once trusted posted naked pictures of her online.

"People are telling you send them more pictures or else," said Heavin.

Heavin pointed out that now strangers have folders of her photos, making sure they will never go away.

"I went to therapy because I was really suicidal," said Heavin.

Heavin isn't alone.

Revenge porn is becoming more common around the world, with more than 3,000 websites featuring it. Revenge porn is a term including anything from naked photos to sex tapes, that were created with the understanding they are private and not meant to be shared.

The majority of revenge porn victims are women under the age of 30. According to experts, half of the victims have considered suicide at one point.

Throughout the United States, 26 states have made posting revenge porn against the law. Missing from that list- Oklahoma.

"It's very concerning to see this kind of thing happen, to see the increase, again, it's not like we're seeing a lot of this but we're seeing more than we have before," said Dr. Tony Wells, a clinical psychologist.

Wells said the thirst for power and control are the driving forces behind the 'revenge porn' appeal.

Heavin, experiencing that loss of control first hand after receiving messages from people she didn't know.

"If you delete your Facebook, I will send this to everybody that you know. I will send it to your parents, I will upload you address online, I will put you in danger," said Heavin, talking about some of the messages she would get.

Those threats weighed heavily on Heavin for years, until she finally broke her silence and told her parents - Keith and Ronda Taylor.

Keith has been an anchor on 'Good Morning Oklahoma' for 10 years. Each morning, he reports the news, informs viewers, and makes people laugh.

However, making his daughter Heavin smile was something different.

"She became withdrawn and sullen and moody- older girls just assumed it may have been part of the growing up process," said Keith Taylor.

When Heavin finally talked to her parents, Keith and Ronda, they said it was hard to hear.

"But at the same time it was like she's okay, and you see how strong she is," said Keith. "And that's the kind of thing that could knock you down and put you going backwards."

"She's come out strong because of it," said Ronda. "I wanted to help her, I didn't know how to help her because I didn't know what the problem was in the beginning."

As reprehensible as the behavior may seem, it isn't against the law in Oklahoma, but one lawmaker is trying to change that.

State Senator David Holt is a Republican State Senator from Oklahoma City. On Holt's agenada, a bill that could change everything for people like Heavin.

"We do a lot of things, unfortunately in Oklahoma, to disrespect women," said Holt.

SB 1257 would make it a crime for people to post revenge porn. The first offense would be a misdemeanor and the second offence would be a felony, with the possibility of jail time and a fine.

"It's not ever the woman's fault- you know- it is absolutely the man's fault and I think this law is going to make that statement to that effect," said Holt.

Heavin lives in State Senator Gary Stanislowski's district, and up until Channel 8 approached him, he had never heard of revenge porn. However, now that he does, he said he'll be adding one important thing to the bill- his name.

"When I heard the stories, it made me angry," said Stanislowski.

As Heavin waits out the legislative process, she's doing one thing to help other women like her. Heavin said when she finds photos of a woman posted online, she will find them on facebook and send them a difficult message.

"I hate to tell you, but not to be the bearer of bad news, but this is horrible news. Someone that you trusted betrayed your trust," said Heavin.

She said she offers victims the tools she used to help, and reminds them of one key word- victim.

"Family members have asked you why did you? Who the hell the cares why I did everything? Why did he? Why did he? Why did he post these?" asked Heavin.

Keith and Ronda were proud to sit down and share their daughters story-and her strength.

"Does this support Heavin? Yes. Does it let her know that we love her and back her in whatever she does and we're always willing to stand behind her? Yes. That does that mean whatever she wants to do we will support her yes- we will always be there we will always support her," said Keith.

"It doesn't matter who you are it can happen to anyone," said Ronda.

"I'm proud of my story. It's mine and it's my body. And no one is going to use it against meever," said Heavin.

For the first time in a while Heavin is happy. She's got a whole list of reasons why: her family, love, and finally- she has her power back.

To contact your representative about supporting SB 1257, click here.

If you or someone you know is dealing with 'Revenge Porn,' click on the links below for more resources and ways to help.

Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project - (pro bono legal help for victims)

YWCA Tulsa

California Attorney General Cyber Exploitation Hub

http://www.endrevengeporn.org/faqs-usvictims/

http://www.withoutmyconsent.org/



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