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Love Island's Zara story shows how the attitude towards revenge porn victims needs to change

Sex education still isn’t going far enough.

LOVE ISLAND’S ZARA McDermott was on the Channel 5 news this week discussing her experiences with revenge porn.

The reality star was excluded from school aged 14 after a boy leaked intimate photos of her. She also fell victim during her time in the villa, when nude photos of her were leaked to the press.

Speaking on Channel 5 News, Zara said: “[The producers] told me that images had been released and I kind of had an instinct that would happen from a specific individual I was seeing just before I went in the villa.”

Admitting the offence is being dealt with authorities, Zara added: “I think sending photos is something that everyone does, I’m not excusing it.

I’m proud of my body and I’m not ashamed of sending the photos.”

And so she should be. Zara sent them to a person she believed she could trust and that trust was violated when the images were shared with the world. The person committed an act of violation against Zara, none of which was her fault.

Taking to her Instagram, Zara called the incident in school “one of the most embarrassing, humiliating and horrible times” of her life.

When I was 14, my school found out that there were pictures being circulated of me that I had sent to a boy in my year. I was suspended due to my ‘behaviour’, and the boy got off lightly.
No one wanted to be my friend, I had people shouting awful things at me around school, and this went on for years. I would be in class and people would get the picture up on their phone and hold it against the glass windows and humiliate me. The picture was printed off and put in my locker. It was sent to my parents, and shown to my teachers by my peers in order to embarrass me.
Why did I do it in the first place? Because I wanted to be liked by someone. I always blamed myself and my choices for years and saw myself as the perpetrator of my own bullying. It has stayed with me since then, and I buried it for a long time. I struggle to speak about that time in my life without getting emotional.”

She advised those who have found themselves in a similar position to “speak to your family, your friends. No one will judge you.” How likely is that though, given the reaction she faced – one of shame and stigma – during school from her peers and her superiors; the ones who were being paid to protect her in the first place?

Sex education needs to extend wide beyond condoms and consent, and educate about the impact revenge porn has on its victims.

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