A HORSHAM teenager has spoken out after being targeted by a pornographic photo-sharing website.
Lily Dalton, 18, described the experience as confronting and violating.
The gender-fluid teenager uses the pronouns they, them and their.
Ms Dalton’s image appeared on an online chat forum known to police, which featured thousands of photos of people, including underage students.
Pictures on the website were shared without permission, often by people who knew the subjects.
Ms Dalton’s own photos were shared only after they condemned the website and its practices.
“I found out about the site and my heart fell through the floor,” they said.
“It wasn’t until I spoke out that my pictures appeared – I was basically punished for being vocal about how terrible it was. I felt violated and sick to my stomach.
“I’m very much a person who wants to be in control of their body and someone decided to violate me – specifically because they wanted to hurt me.”
Ms Dalton believes the image of them might have been uploaded by a former boyfriend or someone close to him.
They said many people had told them it was their own fault for taking the photos, but had not questioned the actions of the person who had uploaded them online.
“It’s much easier to blame promiscuity, rather than uphold a man for his actions, when it’s the attitude of the entire community or society,” they said.
“You wouldn’t blame people for having their wallet stolen. You wouldn’t say, ‘why did you own a wallet?’
“This is the same situation – you are blaming victims for something they had no control over.”
Australian Federal Police reported on Friday they had shut down the website.
Ms Dalton said the site was the latest in a string of forums or websites.
“I’m angry, I’m really angry for everybody involved – this isn’t something new,” they said.
“It hasn’t changed and it won’t change for a long time because of the attitude of some boys.
“The reason these nudes were shared was because they couldn’t control us. They didn’t have a part in what we were doing and that wasn’t okay to them.”
Since the incident, Ms Dalton has advocated for better sex education in schools and accountability for people who shared photographs without consent.
Ms Dalton said sex education still had ties to victim-blaming and inequality.
“Having nudes shared can ruin your life – especially in the country,” they said.
“People say they lose respect for you, but the only person who decides how much respect you have is yourself.
Young boys still see women as objects, even if they don’t realise it.Lily Dalton
“They see young women as entertainment – something they can control.”
Ms Dalton reported the incident to Horsham police the day the photos appeared.
Police were supportive but Ms Dalton said there was little they could do.
“They were definitely sympathetic,” she said. “There were no lectures like I know some people got elsewhere.
“There just wasn’t much that could be done.”
Ms Dalton said the incident would not ruin their confidence or shake their beliefs.
“They haven’t beaten me, and never will,” she said.
“The people who shared these photos are worthless people who have violated so many people’s safety. No amount of harassment will stop me being who I am.”