Revenge porn victim calls for NY law to protect others from vengeful exes

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A vengeful ex-boyfriend posted a nude photo of Carly Hellstrom online every day for nearly two weeks after their three-month relationship ended. Now, she's an advocate for legislation that protects victims from revenge porn.

A vengeful ex-boyfriend posted a nude photo of Carly Hellstrom online every day for nearly two weeks after their three-month relationship ended. Now, she’s an advocate for legislation that protects victims from revenge porn.

It was a split-second decision that will haunt 23-year-old Carly Hellstrom for the rest of her life. In her freshman year of college at Florida State University, when she was 18, Hellstrom was in a 3-month relationship, during which she sent a nude photo of herself through a text message. The relationship ended, but years later an obsessive ex sought revenge.

“Three years later he came into my bar and accused me of overcharging his debit card and the next thing I know a nude photo of myself went up on an international gossip website the next morning,” Hellstrom said.

Hellstrom’s ex was relentless, posting her nude picture to first a private FSU Facebook page followed by 500 students and then to another FSU anonymous gossip site.

“He continuously posted that photo every single day for about a week and a half and I remember the morning exactly. You first just feel so empty and then you just cry until tears run out,” Hellstrom said.

Hellstrom’s nightmare occurred in Florida, where she worked with attorneys and local legislators to eventually pass a bill criminalizing revenge porn. She hopes the same will happen in New York because there are no laws in the Empire State to help prevent this.

In New York, there were no laws on the books protecting victims from a scorned ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. If you’ve exchange sexual photos or video while you’re in a relationship, that’s considered consensual.

That status doesn’t change after a breakup.

Queens Assemblyman Edward Braunstein is working to change all that. In 2014, he first introduced a bill criminalizing what’s known as revenge porn, making it a misdemeanor punishable with up to a year in jail time.

Carrie Goldberg, an attorney who specializes in cases like these, says 90 percent of the victims of revenge porn are women. In just the two years since she’s started her practice, she’s seen almost 450 cases of New Yorkers whose lives are being destroyed by pictures or video they wish they could take back.

“We don’t have anything when it comes to protecting something that is far more sacred to people which is their sexual privacy and it’s time,” Goldberg said.