HOST: Please be aware that the content in this podcast may be unsettling for some listeners.
HOST: Kia ora, welcome to Hear Me See Me, a chance to hear young New Zealanders share their experiences, speak their minds and maybe even change yours. I'd like to introduce you to Jaime, who shares a powerful story about sexual exploitation and cyberbullying.
JAIME: It was the holidays before year 10 for me and I went with a group of my friends who were all boys and we got drunk for the first time. So, I was very young, but I mean it happens. And then I got drunk to the point that I can't remember anything else. And that was my morning, I woke up puking and then we went on to the beach and then we went home and that was that. That's what I, you know, presumed had happened. I was like wow we all got drunk and that's how it goes. It was pretty gross.
And then about a month later I was at McDonald's after school where a boy showed me this picture of me and it was a picture of me shirtless on a bed and I had no recollection of where that would have came from or you know of that happening at all and apparently I’d gotten with one of the guys there.
And there were various pictures taken of a similar sort and everyone had seen these pictures and I didn't even know they existed, it was quite hard to know about. And then one of the boys who was there that actually took the photos I found out was completely sober as well and had continued to be my friend throughout this month of me not knowing. So, it was pretty rough. And then one of them also sent the photos to me on Facebook Messenger and would every so often send them to me and be like haha look at this.
And you know, I of course didn't tell my parents at the time which was probably my first mistake, but I think I thought they would be mad at me for drinking and all this stuff which, I don’t know, I regret not telling them, but that's the way my 14-year-old brain went.
And then fast forward a bit later in the year and the photos had been circled around and everything and I had taken some time off school pretending to be sick because I couldn't face going to school. And then a couple of girls who I thought were somewhat my friends found those photos again and then continued spreading them around my school. So now they were at the school I was at every day and then they also found nude images of other girls from Wellington that were in fact not me so there were about four different images going around of I didn't know who they were at the time that everyone thought were me.
And these girls continued to like, oh this sounds so strange now, but they would make these Facebook statuses which it was called ‘like for a name and comment your opinion’ and they would purposefully, I think, give everyone my name so there were hund- like so many comments about me, all about how like no one cares about your boobs because I happened to have big boobs compared to everyone else which I was insecure about myself. And like how I was shit at netball and that I was an attention whore and like just all this stuff and it was obvious to me and everyone else that it was all about me but that was, I guess, the whole point.
I was very very depressed because I thought everyone thought I was this slut who would send nudes to boys and I had very few friends at school because everyone was writing these comments about me and yeah so school was really really hard.
I would spend most of my day in my room in my bed on my computer and I think I ran my immune system so low just from being so depressed, I ended up getting a lot of like tonsillitis and everything which helped me in my stances because it meant I didn't have to go to school but physically and mentally I was a mess and I wasn't helping myself either by looking online at all of the things about me. And yeah, I found going to school very difficult and especially like going to school for academic purposes. I just - that wasn't even part of my mindset anymore. I thought I was dumb, I thought I was like worthless, I thought you know I'm just this slut, I shouldn't bother at school maybe I should go get with boys and that kind of thing because that’s what was being portrayed on to me of what I was.
I was struggling with the issues going on and I was also trying to be cool myself you know most 13, 14-year-olds are and I definitely was and it meant me choosing the wrong friends and thinking that being good at school was lame and like all of this stuff. And then I guess it was in year 11, I had done really well on my year 10 exams which don't mean anything but they're like practicing for NCEA and I realized oh maybe I actually you know have something going on in my brain, so I decided that I would try in algebra and I'd try in English and choosing to try in classes and actually care about my grades and stuff like that, yeah, it made a really big difference and I ended up really enjoying school which is really cool and it's really cool for my little sister to see because now she can't wait to go to high school.
And I think that that is such a unique thing to want, you know, no one wants to go to high school, but she can't wait. And I think hopefully it's sort of due to her seeing my last three years being so positive and yeah I ended up getting good grades, getting into uni and having good friends.
It wasn't all easy like there were other things there weren't great like school was difficult academically and still little friendship dramas but nothing severe, nothing out of the ordinary, yeah. I ended up actually making really good friends and one of them I made in algebra class and he's now my boyfriend and that was in 2015, so you know, things like that and surrounding myself with people that cared more about what was going on in games and at school than what was going on in the popular circle of people, that was the biggest difference. So yes, surrounding myself with people that didn't care about whose Instagram was the best and amazingly a couple of them didn't even know who I was which was so refreshing because that meant they didn't know anything, which now I think almost everyone close to me knows most things I've been through because I believe in telling your stories cos it helps other people deal with their own.
But some people - there were these two girls that actually did kind of step in during the problems and were somewhat there for me and they were there for me more than anyone else during those times, which I wasn't friends with them before anything bad happened, they kind of stepped in when they noticed I was staying home from school. And I continued being friends with them through high school and yeah one of them, this particular girl, she was really good in the way that she didn't bring up anything that she had heard about me unless I brought it up first. So I guess my new friends didn't think oh that's the girl who had those photos of her boobs or that's you know, it was just - I was me and kind of got to figure out who I was and tell them that rather than based off of my experiences.
I know none of the people that got me to that sort of place would ever have wanted that to happen but I guess they didn't think about the impact that their actions can actually cause on a person. The fact that pictures were taken, that was one thing that happened and I think the worst part was that the decision to share them around the school was taken. Whereas I know for a fact that at least one of the three would have known that’s a bad idea, like someone would have had a feeling maybe oh maybe we shouldn't do this. And I think if that person had spoken up and said stop let's not share these photos, let's delete them, it all would have been ok. So I guess if you’ve ever got a feeling that something might hurt someone, don't push it away to try and be cool, cos it might save someone's life. And I think I never had any adult, or anyone explicitly tell me that it wasn't my fault.
It's taken me multiple years of hearing friends’ stories that are similar and reading about the #MeToo movement and everything like this to see wow it really wasn't my fault like the fact that I chose to drink alcohol wasn't me signing up for what you know what was going to happen afterwards. So I guess I really really wish someone pulled me aside and said “hey this isn't your fault that this happened”.
HOST: Drinking and experiencing all of those things at a young age for the first time is how you learn from mistakes and how you grow up but like as Jamie said there must have been at least one person or boy or anyone who won't have a good feeling about the things that are going on and it can be hard to speak up but there’s always a benefit of doing that and you know saving someone's life.
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