A Sydney schoolgirl whose nude photos were leaked by a boy in her year has opened up about the devastating effects the ordeal has had on her mental health.
Alya Jamieson was just 11 when she was coerced into sending explicit images to her classmate under the threat of being “bashed”.
But after handing over the photos, the images were quickly circulated around the school and on social media, sparking an onslaught of abuse that sent Alya into a lengthy mental health battle.
At the height of her struggle, Alya – who is now 20 – said she “didn’t leave” her house for eight months and was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
However, she’s recently started using her experience to help others who find themselves in similar predicaments, advocating for more safety and education on image-based abuse.
Alya’s ordeal began when she started talking to a boy in her year who she described herself as “having a crush on”, explaining he had always been “nice” to her.
“The first photo I sent was just because he asked and I trusted him,” she said in an interview with SEEN TV.
“But a few hours later, he came back to me and said, ‘If you don’t send me more, I’m going to get you bashed.’
“I sent him two or three more photos and he replied: ‘I’m going to send them to people.’”
Alya, who is currently pregnant with her first child, said she begged the boy ‘please don’t do that’, but later found out he hadn’t listened to her pleas.
“The photos were sent [around] on Facebook Messenger and then they got sent to people on Snapchat, Instagram, they were pretty much on every social media platform,” she explained.
“I begged my mom not to send me to school, said I was sick, but in reality I was just avoiding school.
“Then I started getting threatening phone calls, people calling me a ‘slut’ and a ‘whore’.
“Some even I should kill myself and called me ‘disgusting’.”
From that point on, Alya didn’t leave the house, which she said put a “horrible” strain on her relationship with her mom.
“The police were called and we did speak to a detective, but at the time, you know, I was 11,” she continued.
“I ended up not pressing charges, but they did go to his house and talk to him and his mother, and talked to the school.”
For eight long months, the schoolgirl hid out at home, but eventually she was moved to a different school and had to face the world.
“The first time that I came out of my house after the situation happened, I went to the main street shops in my town with my mom and my little sister,” Alya recalled.
“I was walking down the street, and the first thing that I heard was a 16-year-old old boy calling me a ‘sl*t’ and saying that he had seen my photos and that everyone thinks that I’m ‘disgusting’.
“It was absolutely horrible.”
Even at her new schools, the nude photos haunted the young girl, with Alya stating she began to gain weight from emotional eating which she used to help cope.
“Once I got to my fourth high school, I realised it was a really big trigger for my PTSD and that the school environment, was just not very healthy for me,” she continued.
“That’s why I made the decision to drop out halfway through year 10.
“I ended up with no qualifications while everyone else – including the boy who leaked my photos – went on to graduate.”
Alya said this showed her how “unfair” a lot of these situations are, stating the “majority of the punishment ends up on the victim rather than the perpetrator”.
She said: “I wish I could go back to before I even sent the photos and just tell myself that a lot of people who think that you can trust, you cant.
“People pretend like you can trust them to get stuff out of you, and at 11, that is a very hard lesson to learn.”
Alya has started to turn her negative experience into a positive, sharing educational videos on TikTok about revenge porn, which refers to the distribution of explicit or sexual photographs or videos of an individual without their consent.
While image-based abuse is a criminal offense in every state and territory, the legislation appears to have done little to reduce the number of offenses.
However the number of women targeted with image-based abuse is on the rise, SBS reported in July.
Kathleen Maltzahn, chief executive at Sexual Assault Services Victoria, said despite this the figures are reflective of how often image-based abuse occurs.
“We know with sexual violence, generally, that it’s a tremendously under-reported crime and we expect that to be the same for sharing of intimate images,” she told the publication.
“Not everyone understands it as a crime and as being the perpetrator’s fault.
“We really do need prompt community education about this.”