Kevin Bollaert was shorter and smaller than I expected.
His slight physique actually made me wonder how he'd cope with spending a large part of the rest of his life doing hard time in a tough American prison
Because the 29-year-old isn’t serving time in San Diego’s maximum-security prison for physical violence.
What Bollaert did was inflict mental, emotional and financial scars on thousands of women, behind the safety of his computer keyboard.
I was preparing to sit face to face with evil but quickly discovered that sheer stupidity and ignorance was far more apparent.
Bollaert set up a revenge porn website.
It was a huge success among misogynists and sick perverts who were ‘turned on’ knowing these privately risqué photos were posted without the woman’s consent or permission.
Some images came from the phones of jilted ex-lovers while others were hacked.
Also online was the victim’s name, address, age, where she lived, worked, went to school and even played sport.
Hiding was next to impossible.
The hurt, embarrassment and violation could not be underestimated.
Some victims lost their jobs, their privacy, self-respect and support of families but gained non-stop harassment from strangers online.
It got so bad, that some attempted suicide.
“A couple of times I did realize.. I should probably quit doing this,” Bollaert said.
But he didn’t.
“I guess the wiser thing to do is to not take naked pictures of yourself or let other people take naked pictures of you,” he said.
Kevin’s idiotic attempt to justify his actions plays right into the hands of arm-chair critics intent on blaming women for taking photos in the first place.
It’s an attitude that women should modify their behavior so treacherous men aren’t given a green light to harass, assault and disrespect.
Never mind questioning whether the perpetrators have any right to expose these women or control someone else’s identity and profit from their distress.
The old view is that it’s the women’s fault for posing – not the men for posting.
But that mindset is severely being shifted one victim at a time.
25-year-old Emma Holten from Denmark is leading the way.
Four years ago, she woke to hundreds of abusive emails from random men after her inbox was hacked and her photos posted online.
“I don't wish for my worst enemy to be a victim of revenge porn,” she said.
“It is an awful, awful experience and it is dehumanising.”
Some found their way onto Bollaert’s site.
Emma wrote to him pleading to take her images down.
He never replied.
“I think we have to look very seriously at who is doing damage to another person… and hold responsible the person who is committing a crime,” said Emma.
“When we tell young women that they're silly for trusting men we are also implicitly legitimizing this type of crime to the men that do it.”
Fed up with years of harassment, Emma did something unexpected.
She took more nude photographs but on her terms and in a non-sexualized way.
Amy Cornes, the daughter of Adelaide AFL legend Graham Cornes reacted in a similar fashion after she too became a victim.
Amy re-posted the image on Facebook with an emoji covering her private parts.
“There was nothing I could do about it except beat them at their own game and take the power back,” said Amy.
The international solidarity among these women standing up to perpetrators and challenging the victim-blaming perception is growing stronger and their voices are getting louder.
Laws here and in the US are slowly starting to reflect this.
Bollaert is the first person to be convicted of a revenge porn crime but he certainly won’t be the last.
If you are a victim of Non-consentual Pornography contact the CCRI Crisis Helpline: 844-878-CCRI (2274) or http://www.cybercivilrights.org/
CONTACT SUNDAY NIGHT