On the show

'Revenge porn' victim fights back: 'I was terrified'

May 3, 2013 at 10:12 AM ET

Video: Holly Jacobs’ life was turned upside down when intimate photos she had sent her ex-boyfriend turned up online. She is now speaking out about her ordeal, hoping to alert others to the dangers of “revenge porn,” which experts say is more common than you might think.

Holly Jacobs never imagined a routine breakup with an old flame would result in a four-year nightmare chasing down embarrassing pictures he allegedly posted of her online in revenge.

The first naked photo popped up on her Facebook profile, but once Jacobs started dating again, other photos and a video began proliferating on numerous “revenge porn” sites.

“My email address was attached to these, so I had harassing emails constantly coming in,” she told TODAY’s Matt Lauer on Friday. “My work location was posted up and there, so I was terrified. I was so afraid that someone would physically stalk me.”

Jacobs has turned her experience into a crusade, pushing lawmakers in her state of Florida to pass a law criminalizing acts of “cyber stalking.” New Jersey is the only state that prohibits such behavior, and Jacobs is urging more states to pass similar laws.

She also encouraged others in her position to speak up.

“Stand up for what you feel is right. It’s not OK that people are doing this and exploiting you, just because you trusted somebody and because you shared intimate photographs in an intimate relationship,” she said. “That’s not the problem here. The problem is that somebody is using this against you and trying to drive you to suicide. They’re ruining our lives. That’s not OK.”

Last month, Jacobs filed a civil lawsuit against the former boyfriend, Ryan Seay, whom she met when she was was a doctoral student. The two dated for several years, including time spent long distance, which was when the intimate photos were initially sent.

In her lawsuit, Jacobs accuses Seay of stalking her and levels other charges related to emotional distress.

Seay denies the allegations, saying someone hacked into his computer and posted photographs of Jacobs that were stolen from him.

“He adamantly disputes the charges,” his attorney, Charles Arline, told TODAY. “He steadfast denies any involvement with this. His position is, he’s a victim as much as Holly.”

But the attorney for Jacobs said they have built a strong case against Seay.

“We have enough evidence. We think it’s pretty good,” lawyer Patrick McGeehan told Lauer. Jacobs is seeking immediate removal of all photos and videos off the Web.

Jacobs rejects criticism from people who said she never should have sent – or taken – the photographs in the first place.

“It’s absolutely just a new version of victim blaming," she said. "What I would say to victims when they hear that is, just hold on to that little voice inside of you that says, ‘This is not right.' What’s happening to me is not OK, and there need to be laws in place against this.”

TOP