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Towson Woman Fighting Back After She’s Exposed Through ‘Revenge Porn’

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Bui Linh 370x278 XL (2) Linh Bui
Linh Bui joined WJZ Eyewitness News in July 2013 as a weekend anchor...
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TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — It’s called revenge porn, and it’s a growing problem, impacting thousands of lives. Couples trust each other with intimate photos, then become victims of the digital age.

A Towson woman tells Linh Bui how she’s fighting back after she was exposed.

Annmarie Chiarini is a respected English professor, a single mother of two and a victim of revenge porn.

It’s a growing problem on the Internet, where former lovers get revenge by posting their ex’s racy photos that were supposed to be for their eyes only.

Chiarini’s problems started when she went on Facebook and reconnected with a former boyfriend after almost 20 years.

“I was shocked and thrilled and it’s that whole, ‘Oh my gosh!'” she said.

Thinking he’s the one, she even lets him take explicit naked photos of her. But then, he starts to change.

“He was getting more and more manipulative and even more controlling,” she said. “He had threatened to sell the pictures that I had allowed him to take. He said, ‘I will destroy you’ and hung up the phone.”

With just a few clicks, he inflicts maximum damage, targeting her family, friends, students and bosses with links to her racy photos.

Reporter: “When you first saw that email and you saw that these pictures of you were out there for everyone to see, what was your reaction?”

Chiarini: “I had lost control. Somebody else was in the driver’s seat of my life and I was at his mercy. I realized this is my life and this is never going to end.”

She isn’t alone. Other victims have joined forces to make revenge porn a crime.

WJZ investigates, learning more than 1,200 victims have contacted the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative in the last six months and more than 45 websites are devoted exclusively to revenge porn.

“It’s either every day or twice a day victims get in touch with me,” said Prof. Danielle Citron, University of Maryland Carey School of Law.

Citron is an expert on revenge porn.

“It is creating so much social harm for victims, for society, for the kinds of expectations we have of each other. We can no longer trust one another,” she said.

Feeling betrayed and humiliated, Chiarini took a handful of prescription pills to end her life.

“I questioned my ability to be a role model to my children,” she said. “I didn’t want to embarrass them. I didn’t want them to go through school saying, ‘Oh, your mom’s the one who’s naked on the Internet.'”

“I somehow needed to make sure that nobody else felt this way, that nobody else hit this low,” she continued.

When Chiarini found out there are no laws to punish her ex-boyfriend, she came to Annapolis and teamed up with Delegate Jon Cardin to make revenge porn a crime.

“At the click of a mouse you can ruin somebody’s reputation, you can ruin their life, you can cause them significant psychological anguish, Cardin said. “We want people to think twice before clicking the mouse.”

“Until the law in Maryland is passed I won’t truly know peace,” Chiarini said.

Under Cardin’s proposal, posting sexually explicit material of someone without their consent would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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