It is not unusual for young people to make mistakes. Mistakes and regrets can and do happen to all of us. In fact, not making mistakes is the biggest mistake one could ever make in one’s life. So do not believe for any moment that your life is ruined by a mistake. In fact, they teach you some of the most valuable lessons.
I write a story about a young woman who opened up about leaked sex videos (which were supposed to be private), which has somehow threatened to derail her future, the impact it had on her and the lessons learned. This is her story in her own words:
Growing up in a single parent household has it benefits and downfalls. My mom who also grew up with a single parent tried her best to assist me in all ways possible, but the truth is, I was lacking the “I love you”, “Oh how pretty you look” attention from my absentee father. I yearned for love and affection and began to look for it elsewhere. Lies and deceit began to follow me.
My life changed on this fateful day when I began a summer drama camp. Tisha (not her real name) and I became friends instantly. We started hanging out and very soon after, she introduced me to one of her male friends. This guy was Alexander (not his real name). We got familiar very quick and soon after he asked me to be his girlfriend. Without a doubt, I was looking for the love and validation I never got from my dad. I was looking for the unconditional acceptance one craves from a parent, but I was also so freaked out of my mind. I was finally going to have a boyfriend. This was like a dream come true, after all I really liked the guy.
Countless studies have shown the downfalls of young girls not having a father figure. The most notable includes: feelings of low self-esteem and unworthiness, more promiscuous, sexually aggressive, have kids younger, fear abandonment and rejection, jump into love relationships that are not as emotionally satisfying, stable, and long-lasting (willingness to settle).
During our relationship, I began to feel the bottled emotions that was missing from a lack of love in my life. I felt loved and melted just by the thought of him. The state of being in love was exciting but at the same time frightening. The fear of losing him that was evoked by the positive emotions was frightening. That is why I gave in to his fantasy of having a recorded encounter with two women as a birthday present in February 2012. I did not think anything of it at that moment nor did I think of the consequences that would follow. I trusted him after all.
The trouble with intimate films is that while they are always “supposed” to be a secret, one should always anticipate an audience in the near future or years after the recording.
I then spoke with my best friend about the proposal, she agreed, and on his birthday, we met at his house. We all began foreplay together but I soon got jealous, I could not stand the thought of him touching my best friend. I then exited the room and allowed them some privacy. Once they were finished, I then experimented with my girlfriend.
After our experiences, he showed me the video that he made of the two of us together but also of my encounter with my girlfriend. I was very upset because we had not agreed to the recording with me and my girlfriend. Besides, we were not even aware that he was making the recording. Just before leaving for home, I asked him to delete the videos. He assured me that he would.
I tried to forget what happened that day, but there were some valuable lessons to be learnt. I knew that I would never conform to such request in the future. The feeling of being out of control, not being able to manage what to film. The unbearable feeling of jealously you experience to see your partner intimate with someone else. The worries of him sharing the videos without my consent.
A few days after, my boyfriend told me that he had lost his phone and that he was so sorry but the intimate footages that we shared were still on his phone. I was very upset because he previously reassured me that he would have deleted the footage. He tried to assure me that if the phone was found, the media files would be inaccessible. Back then, blackberry was the “in-thing” and if the password was entered incorrectly a number of times, every file on the phone would be deleted. I was very trusting, of course, only a handful of men are that rat-like and unscrupulous and I did not consider him one of them.
That same year after I left school, I was working at my alma mater as a coach for the netball team. I developed a bond with the netballers and we all trained hard and vigorously to be one of the best teams out there. One day whilst waiting for the netballers to arrive, my assistant coach and I were discussing team matters. My phone buzzed and buzzed but I ignored the call because I did not have a friendship anymore with the person calling on the other end. Our friendship terminated during my last year at school.
I told myself if she called once more, I would answer the call. A couple minutes later, the phone rang again. I answered and she was like “Della, what kind of things I am seeing there?” I was lost and asked what she talking about. She replied, “Porn videos!” My heart sank immediately and I felt my whole world crashing in my face. I did not know what to think or how to feel. You know the feeling you get in your throat and you just cannot swallow, and your heart is racing rapidly but you just cannot move? This is exactly how I felt.
I immediately called my girlfriend who is still one of my best friends to date to tell her about the revelation. She was of course distraught but somehow dealt with it much better than me. I then told the assistant coach what happened. He tried to talk me through the ordeal but it felt like I was in a trance and maybe, just maybe I might snap of it soon. I cannot even recall how I got home that fateful day. All I could remember it was a Wednesday afternoon of November 2012.
Within a short space of time, people close to me had already seen those videos. I was so embarrassed. A “B+” student and a promising athlete, how could this have happened to her? When I got home, I had to tell my mom what had happened. I cannot recall how I told my mom, but she comforted me, and stated, “You’re not the first nor are you the last.”
When my mom went to bed, the thought of being alive resonated in my mind. I was so embarrassed and filled with emotions that I wanted to commit suicide. I felt like I wanted to die. I was not able to cut myself nor hang myself so I thought a drug overdose would do the job. That night I consumed 33 pills that I found at home (could be some herbal tablets, we never really consumed medication at home) and I just waited for the pills to take effect.
During that time, I called one of my past teachers who was also a good friend to say good-bye. I told him what I had done. He stayed on the line with me to ensure that I was OK and in the meantime, called my mom who was already asleep so she could look after me. My mom ensured that I had something to eat, then I began to puke and slowly started to feel better. I cried and cried because I was this close to just being a name on this earth.
Society had behaved as abysmally as the people involved. They share and circulate such footage and they bully on social media platforms.
I learnt at that moment, persons who commit suicide are just always hoping that one person would notice, at least one person would say, “You are special!” at least expect to hear the words that, “I am there for you!” I was this close to death and only then did I realise what it meant to be alive. I really wanted to be gone and not worry about-facing the challenges and humiliation that would come.
However, with good friends and a loving family I managed to make it through. It was however, not without challenges. I was particularly humiliated on a Facebook page “C.C.S.S Class of 2012.” It was then that I also learnt who my friends were. And there were those who I never expected to stand up for me, who defend me. That meant a lot in the midst of my ordeal. Reading positive comments from two males ignited a spark in me. I knew then that I had made a mistake and now I should learn to forgive myself and the people involved and learn from that mistake. Despite my new found strength, I still was not feeling as strong enough to leave my home to go to the city nor was I ready to face the shame or get involved in any unnecessary confrontation.
Before the incident, plans were in the making for me to go to Denmark to work as an Au Pair. Luckily I managed to leave the country the following January 2013 to Denmark where I stayed for a year. Of course people continued to talk about me and speculated a lot about my departure. During my time in Denmark, I tried to focus on myself and build my self-confidence as well as my self-esteem and to be able to handle criticism.
The truth is, there is a demand for greater sensitivity to human mistakes.
After a year in Denmark, I returned to St. Lucia, but still felt judged based on the stares I was subjected to. Nonetheless, I came back with a mission to develop a career and myself. I then attended the Sir Arthur Community College where I developed a special bond with two female friends. I was still haunted by my past. There were still rumours about me at the new institution. I then had to share my story with my friends who fully supported me. I was sometimes bullied and they stood up for me. That made me a bit emotional but as they say life goes on.
Fast track to November 2017, I applied for a position at the St. Lucia Royal Police Force. I did the entrance exam in January 2018 and was successful. The next stage was the background check. I did not even remember this incident in 2012 and I never expect this to affect my success. The officer who did my background check brought up the videos. I told him exactly what Alexander told me. A month after being questioned this same officer questioned me again and he brought the videos up once again.
In June, I got a call saying that my application was not successful and that I had failed my background check. I cried so much, that those tears were enough to fill a 200-litre drum with water. I was in total disbelief, the one job I was looking forward to having just vanished. I would not have believed that a mistake in my past would have affect my career to that extent. It is not like I had a criminal record which would definitely eliminate me. I was a victim of trust and yet still, this was held against me. An unemployed youth trying to gain employment and to do better and be better. The hope of having a gainful employment vanished. I was once again back to square one and had to muster the strength and the courage to hold my head high even after being wrecked by a raging bull.
I am strong-willed, motivated and grateful for the people in my life that continue to encourage me and remind me that everything is going to be alright. That this is just another minor setback and my comeback will be even greater. According to the Rocky, “IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW HARD YOU COULD HIT, IT’S HOW HARD YOU COULD GET HIT AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD!”
This is my motivation, this is my story, this is me, this is who I’ve become and I’m not going to let this prevent me from achieving all my dreams and my aspirations. For those who are going through obstacles today, tomorrow or whenever, you should know that every hiccup, is just a minor setback. So when you are hit, just re-evaluate yourself, remove all the negative upsets from your life, and prepare yourself for what is to come.
Never should you think that there are not people who will be there for you or to care for you in difficult times. When you do acknowledge these people, do not let them go because they are your inspiration, they see greatness within you and all it takes is just one little push from them to get you to the top. So in the meantime, prepare and shape yourself in the darkness, for when you do come to the light; YOU ARE INDEED GOING TO BE A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.
Today I am still unemployed, but very active in sports. I even represent St. Lucia in Rugby tournaments in the region.
I am a strong advocate for building increased confidence and self-awareness in youths and adults who have been exposed to unnecessary negative press.
Tips for overcoming a humiliating incident:
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