Let's get one thing straight before we start: there is no shame in taking or sharing nude photos of yourself. It's an expression of confidence and sexuality, as well as a display of extreme trust. These are all perfectly normal things. It only becomes wrong when you take and / or share such a photo of someone else without their consent.
This week I learned that my partner, now my ex-partner, had shown risqué photos of me to friends. Not just his friends; our friends. At some point I'm going to have to look people in the eye who have seen my body without my consent.
At this point I want to make it clear that I don't blame these friends – they're almost as horrified as me. They didn't ask to see these photos. The fault of what happened lies solely on the shoulders of the man who thought it'd be a good idea to pull these photos up on his phone and show them to friends while making vulgar comments.
There were several reasons for me taking these photos, all of which were made clear to my partner at the time. They weren't taken for his pleasure.
1. I wanted to improve my confidence in my body.
2. I wanted to improve my confidence in my sexuality.
3. I wanted to take back control of who saw my body following assault.
Hold onto that third point. My partner was aware of my past, assaults and all. He still broke my trust in favour of getting a kick out of showing my body to another man.
These photos were not shown in anger following a messy breakup. The messy breakup came later. This was not revenge. I would, however, go so far as to call it drunken malice given the conversations that preceded the incident in which the photos were shared.
I was made aware of the fact that these images had been shared following him lecturing me on trust after I'd shared screenshots of our conversations with mutual friends out of concern for both his and my welfare. I was accused of being “duplicitous”. The irony has not escaped me.
My emotions have gone from one to another, over and over, so quickly. I've gone from shock, to embarrassment, to anger, to hysterical laughter, to shame, to embarrassment again. This isn't the kind of thing you recover from quickly. Once again I've had my trust broken, once again by a man who knew about my vulnerabilities, and once again I've got a long road ahead of me in terms of rebuilding my confidence and trust in people.