Keeping intimate pictures of your ex is abusive
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
I’m not often someone who feels comfortable making character judgements without a lot of information about a person. It feels wrong to determine someone’s value based solely on few—perhaps minute—details, like I’m somehow disingenuous in my interactions with others. However, if you keep revealing pictures of your ex after you’ve broken up and the relationship is over, I’m totally comfortable assuming you’re an abusive human being.
This problem came up for me recently when an ex-boyfriend posted a picture he had taken of me in an extremely intimate moment. A girlfriend sent me a screen shot, worried that it was me but hoping that she might be wrong—she wasn’t. It was me. It didn’t show my face, and he made no reference to it being me in the photo’s description. But it was me.
In all honesty, the picture didn’t show any more of my body than I have felt comfortable revealing at, say, the beach. It’s important to remember, though, that it’s not about how much or how little of my body I’m comfortable showing on the regular—it’s about how my mostly-naked body was posted without my consent as a cheap ploy for likes from other would-be Instagram “photographers” and that I couldn’t have it removed (even though I reported it) because, although it was posted without my permission, its lack of completely nudity meant it did not violate the app’s policies.
The incident with my picture really highlighted for me the little microaggressions I had never noticed in my relationship, the subtle power plays and frequent contempt of my autonomy. People like my ex who would make that type of material public often don’t keep it for wholesome, nostalgic reasons and they definitely don’t keep it because it’s “art”. It is kept because possessing something as personal as a nude picture means that the one who has kept it has a certain amount of power over the subject. It means they can intimidate and shame, using past intimacy as a means to manipulate and coerce. It can be difficult realizing just how harmful an ex-partner truly was, but we have to realize that this is textbook domestic abuse. Every minute sign of abuse needs to be addressed, because they do add up and they do become worse.