There are quite a few of us who have made the mistake of sending our pictures to someone. Obviously, I’m not referring to pictures like the one above. I mean “pictures” as in “illegal to pose for or view if you are under 18.”
Not every woman trapped in pornography has made this mistake, and not every woman who has made this mistake has been trapped in pornography. Still, there are quite a few women who have either posed for pornography itself, as in part of the industry, or have sexted in some way (sent nude images of themselves to somebody else).
Studies indicate that as many as 1 in 4 teens has engaged in sexting.
News over the past decade has included the suicides of girls who sexted. My friend, Donny Pauling, a former porn producer is often contacted by women he shot (with a camera) with requests to somehow delete those photos. Requests like this (with original CAPS emphasis):
I have a HUGE problem. I’m getting married in a month, and my fiancé FOUND MY PICTURES on the internet. He is beside himself. He is hurt and shocked and being that we are supposed to tie the knot in less than a month, I’m freakin suicidal!!! Freakin sick over this….throwing up, cannot sleep at all…I never thought in a million years that would ever happen. How long do those pictures circulate?? … I know I did those pics and yes it was my fault, I want to get them OFF the internet. Is there anyway possible to do that ASAP? I will pay you the money back, whatever it takes. This will and is ruining my life… This is destroying me. I know I am 100% responsible for taking the pictures, it’s my fault. But it was a long time ago, and I was single and I needed the money. But isn’t there anything you can do to please help me now??? This was like 2 or 3 years ago? …PLEASE”
Unfortunately, pictures, once sent, can’t be deleted. There is no way of completely erasing them from the earth. They are constantly out there, somewhere.
And for those of us with pictures out there, that thought can keep us up at night.
I sent my first pictures when I was 17. Sent them to a complete stranger. I e-mailed him a year later asking him to please delete them, but if he’s the college frat boy he said he was (or even if he wasn’t), the odds are he wasn’t the only one who saw or even possessed those pictures. It, honestly, didn’t bother me, until I started Beggar’s Daughter. I realized that all that has to happen is he has to recognize my name and things could get bad quickly. I don’t want that to happen.
While this would be a great time to tell women to never ever ever ever ever (ever, ever, ever, ever) send their pictures to a man, I want to instead take this time to address the women who already have.
There are many of us with a digital skeleton in our closet, and next to undergoing plastic surgery and entering the witness protection program, there is no surefire way to make sure that skeleton doesn’t come back to haunt us.
There is no way to make sure our future boyfriends, fiances, or husbands aren’t sent our pictures. There is no way to make sure that our faces don’t end up on some porn site. There is no way to completely erase where we’ve been or what we’ve done.
But that doesn’t mean we have to go back.
I find such hope for grace from the life of Saul. No, he wasn’t guilty of pornography. He, instead, was guilty of harassing the church and sending people to their deaths. He was an accessory to government-sanctioned murder. He was notorious and feared among the church. Well, then, he meets Jesus and his world gets rocked. He goes from persecuting the church to being a leader in it. Talk about grace.
But when people brought up Paul’s past, what did he do? He didn’t ignore it. He didn’t change the subject. He didn’t claim it wasn’t him. He owned it, and then he used it to testify to God’s glory. In essence he said, “Yep, you’re right! That was me. I am not that person anymore. Isn’t God great!?”
Now, I know with pictures, it’s different. That’s our bodies out on display, bodies that we don’t wish to display anymore and reputations we no longer wish to have. It’s who we were, ladies. It doesn’t have to change who we are.
We are redeemed and set free by Christ. We are promised an abundant life. We are not given the spirit of fear, but of love and a sound mind. In Christ, we have sanity, even if there are digital ghosts chasing us. We are protected and loved by Him.
That picture at the top isn’t related to my “pictures.” It was actually snapped during my recovery phase, when I still believed that I had to be sexy in order to be beautiful. There were three taken in that series and it reminds me of a time when I was so insecure, so immature in my growth, and searching. It is who I was, and I can’t change that. It’s not who I am.