A furious personal trainer says she knew the men who took and shared pictures of her topless sunbathing on a beach, and revealed how she finally got them to admit after initial rejections.
Lily Cook was secretly photographed lying on a beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs with her sister on November 12 and only learned hours later that the photos had been shared online.
The PT said she saw three men at the beach – two of whom she knew socially – and waited until she thought they were gone before taking her top off.
Later that night, a friend sent her a photo and asked if it was her photo sunbathing topless.
“The person who sent me the photo confirmed who sent them the photo,” she said.
“That’s when I realized a photo had been taken of me without my consent and then distributed.”
Sydney’s Lily Cook (pictured) was secretly photographed sunbathing topless on a Sydney beach earlier this month
A furious Ms Cook then contacted the men – and their girlfriends – in a group message, and they initially claimed their innocence, claiming she was accidentally part of a wider landscape photo posted to Instagram by the one of their friends.
However, she and her sister were lying in the wider image they referred to, while her sister was sitting in the closer photo which was later shared.
“Due to the quality of the image and the angle, it was clear that one of the men had approached me to give me a topless closeup,” she wrote.
Finally, one of the men admitted to accessing the photo on the phone of the man who took it and then sent it to two friends who then distributed it.
“These men (and I use that word liberally) chose to create and corroborate further lies, embellish stories and enlighten me rather than apologize and admit this stark and obvious truth” , she wrote on Instagram.
“I can’t help but think how different this whole process would be if they had the strength and dignity to own their actions and how that can impact a woman.”
The images taken secretly from Ms Cook, who authorized Daily Mail Australia to publish them. The differences between the two images revealed a false story told to her, claiming she was accidentally caught in a wider landscape.
The man who eventually admitted to sharing the photo refused to make a statement about it to police and was told by officers that no charges could be brought as she was in a public place when the photo was socket.
“I’m disappointed because I had faith something would be done,” she told The Daily Telegraph.
No one involved in the incident ever apologized to her for the “disgusting, evil and juvenile” act, she said.
Ms Cook said finding out a photo had been shared on group chats “had a profoundly detrimental effect on her mental health”.
“It’s a moment in my life that will haunt me forever,” she said, vowing to speak out after other women told her the same thing had happened to them.
“The capture and distribution of [an] the explicit image of a woman without her knowledge or consent is both abhorrent and illegal. I am standing on this issue.
Chantelle Otten, sex therapist and girlfriend of tennis star and 2022 Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott, gave her support on Instagram.
“This is so violent and disgusting, I can’t imagine your feelings over the days of this unfolding,” she wrote.
“We are all behind you, they are the problem, you are so brave in writing this message. I hope this is not swept under the rug, but adequately addressed.
Ms Cook said she hoped sharing her story would empower other women who have had similar experiences
Although there are laws in place to protect victims of ‘revenge porn’ – the distribution of sexually explicit images by a former partner without their consent – does not apply to Ms Cook’s case.
Police said it was ‘generally not an offence’ to take a picture of anyone in a public place, and only a crime if taken in private.
“Of course people should be able to express themselves however they want, but unfortunately in today’s social media times others either love to dare to take pictures when people are unsuspecting or for the fun of it. to download,” a senior officer told The Daily Telegraph.
Another officer, who works in sex crimes, said the outcome depended on the circumstances of each individual case, with, for example, cases of children photographed by strangers warranting further investigation.
Criminal lawyer Matt Ward said the law needs to catch up with changes in the way people use technology as the divide between public and private has blurred due to increased sharing of content on media platforms social.
RMIT professor Nicola Henry, an expert in image-based sexual abuse, agreed, saying the nuances of consent were not yet reflected in the law.
She cited the incident in March this year when OnlyFans photos of Married at First Sight contestant Domenica Calarco were shared among the cast without her consent.
Prof Henry said posting intimate images on one website did not necessarily equate to giving consent for them to be shared elsewhere.
Ms Cook said she struggled to understand the motive behind the taking and sharing of the photo, but believed those involved might gain some sense of power.
She now felt empowered to share her story and stand up for other women who had gone through similar experiences.
“I am sharing my experience because I know there are women and girls who have experienced this same violation who, like me, feel overwhelmed by the pain and burden of social stigma,” he said. she writes.
“I want them to know that we share a bond and can make each other stronger.”
NSW Police said: ‘Distributing images, particularly of an intimate nature, to others without permission can have a serious impact on a person’s health and mental wellbeing and can lead to prosecution criminal.
“Images of this nature can be distributed and viewed with increasing ease and can go viral within minutes, with long-term adverse consequences for victims.
“Even in a public place, the privacy of others should be respected and if anyone feels unsafe due to the actions of others, they should report it to the police.”