I was in my 20s when I met my dream man. I had come out of a long relationship and was happy to find someone who cared for me again.
We moved in together a few months after we started dating. Sometimes when we were apart we texted one another sexual photos, and one night we made a sex tape together. It was special and part of the world we created together — and I thought it was just about the two of us.
But after about 18 months, he lost his job and got into financial trouble. He started relying on me more and more and, at the same time, he became physically aggressive and controlling. He asked where I was going and who I was talking to and criticised most things I did. I finally decided to leave him. It was heartbreaking that something which had started off so positively ended up like this.
I moved in with a friend, but my ex broke into my new unit and started calling my work begging to talk to me.
I refused because I knew he was controlling and this wasn’t the kind of relationship I wanted to be in.
A month or so later I started receiving unwanted phone calls and visits from men asking for sex. At first, I thought there had been some mix up with my number, but eventually one of them showed me dating profiles with my name, photos, video and address. My ex had set up the profiles and shared our sex tape online. It was so humiliating to think this tape was out there, and the calls just kept coming.
I thought that moving house and changing my address and phone number would help, but the abuse didn’t end. He found my new address and the calls and unwanted late-night visitors continued.
I told my mum about the abuse and reported it to the police.
Mum was shocked but supportive. She helped me focus on staying and feeling safe. I contacted the dating sites to explain how my ex had created the fake profiles. A couple of the sites took down the profiles, but most didn’t respond.
Mum then helped me send a report to eSafety. They gave me counselling referrals for extra support, put me in touch with a domestic violence helpline to make a safety plan, and contacted the dating sites to get the fake profiles removed. eSafety also encouraged me to reach out to police and get a protection order. After the protection order he stopped all contact. I felt so relieved and felt like I could truly move on with my life.
What Priya wants others to know
Be aware of the warning signs for abusive and controlling behaviour and don’t put up with it. You might be in an abusive or controlling relationship if your partner is jealous of your relationships with friends and family, tries to control who you see and associate with, or limits your world in other ways to only allow in what is important to them.
Don’t put off getting help. Everyone who goes through image-based abuse should contact eSafety. They helped me take steps to deal with the abuse and emotional damage, stop my ex’s abusive online behaviour and got the fake profiles removed.
*Priya’s story combines the experiences and emotions of a number of individuals in this situation. Stock photo. Posed by model.