An irate personal trainer says she was confronted by men who took photos of her sunbathing topless on a beach only to be “gaslit” and told they were only taking “landscape” photos.
Lily Cook was secretly photographed with her sister on a beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on November 12 and only found out about the photographs hours later.
She complained to the police because she was naked, but no charges were filed as the photograph was taken in public.
And Ms Cook’s efforts to hold the group of men morally accountable and obtain an apology also proved unsuccessful.
The PT said it was able to track down those responsible after the ‘close-up’ photo began circulating in one of its social circles.
When she confronted the men about the image, they denied her involvement and suggested she was blowing proportion, claiming it had been cropped from a wider shot of the beach.
Sydney’s Lily Cook (pictured) was secretly photographed sunbathing topless on a Sydney beach earlier this month.
But by analyzing the photo, Ms Cook said she was able to discredit her claims and determine that she was directly targeted.
“These men (and I use that word liberally) chose to create and substantiate more lies, embellish stories and enlighten me instead of apologizing and admitting this stark and obvious truth,” she wrote on Instagram.
“I can’t help but think about how different this whole process would be if they had the strength and dignity to own their shares and how it can affect a woman.”
When she got to the beach, Ms Cook said she saw three men, two of whom she knew socially and had many mutual friends. Later, the men were joined by their girlfriends.
She always tanned topless, but she didn’t feel comfortable doing it while the men stood around and waited until they left.
But later that night, the fitness instructor received a message from a friend asking if she’d been topless on the beach, followed by a ‘close-up’ photo of her lying on the sand.
“The person who sent me the photo confirmed who sent him the photo,” he said.
“That’s when I realized that my photo had been taken without my consent and that it had been distributed.”
The images covertly taken from Ms Cook, who gave Daily Mail Australia permission to publish them. The differences between the two images unraveled a false story she was told that she claimed she accidentally got caught up in a wider landscape shot.
Ms Cook contacted the men and their girlfriends in a group message and they claimed that one of their friends accidentally caught her in a wider landscape photo posted to an Instagram Story.
She claimed this was a lie because she and her sister were lying down in that image, but her sister was sitting in the photo that was shared.
“Due to the quality of the image and the angle, it was clear that one of the men had sneaked up on me to get a close up of me topless,” she wrote.
Ms Cook said a man eventually acknowledged taking the photo off the phone of the man who originally took it and then sent it to two friends who distributed it further.
But the man refused to make a statement to the police.
No one involved in the incident apologized to her for the “disgusting, perverted and juvenile” act, she said.
Ms Cook said finding out a photo was shared in 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 abhorrent and illegal. I am facing this problem.’
Chantelle Otten, a sexologist and girlfriend of tennis star and Australian of the year 2022, Dylan Alcott, gave her support on Instagram.
“This is so violating and disgusting, I can’t imagine your feelings during the days of this development,” he wrote.
We are all behind you, they are the problem, you are very brave to write this post. I hope this is not swept under the rug, but rather dealt with properly.
Ms Cook said she hoped sharing her story would empower other women who have had similar experiences.
Cook told the daily telegraph she reported the incident to the police, but no charges were filed against the men allegedly involved.
“I’m disappointed because I was confident that something would be done,” she said.
Although there are laws to protect victims of “revenge porn” (the distribution of sexually explicit images of an individual, usually by a former partner, without their consent), that does not apply to you.
Police said it is “generally not an offence” to take a photo of anyone in a public place, and it is only an offense if it is taken in private.
“Of course, people should be able to express themselves however they want, but unfortunately in this age of social media, others love to dare to take pictures when people don’t suspect, or for the thrill of uploading them.” senior officer told the Telegraph.
Another officer, who works in the field of sexual crimes, said the outcome depended on the circumstances of each individual case, for example cases of children being photographed by strangers that warranted further investigation.
Criminal defense lawyer Matt Ward said the law needed to catch up with changes in the way people used technology, as the divide between public and private was blurred by increased content sharing on network platforms. social.
RMIT professor Nicola Henry, an expert on image-based sexual abuse, agreed, saying the nuances of consent were not yet reflected in the law.
He cited the incident from March this year when OnlyFans photos of Married At First Sight contestant Domenica Calarco were shared among the cast without her consent.
Professor Henry said that posting intimate images on a website does not necessarily equate to consenting to their sharing elsewhere.
Ms Cook said she had a hard time understanding the motive behind taking and sharing the photo, but believed those involved could gain a certain sense of power.
Now she felt empowered by sharing her story and advocating for other women who had had similar experiences.
“I share my experience because I know that there are women and girls who have experienced this same violation and, like me, feel overwhelmed by the pain and the burden of social stigma,” she wrote.
I want them to know that we share a bond and that we can support each other to become stronger.
NSW Police said: “Distributing images, particularly of an intimate nature, to others without permission can have a serious impact on a person’s mental health and well-being, and can lead to criminal action.”
“Images of this nature can be more easily distributed and viewed and can go viral in minutes, with long-term detrimental consequences for victims.
“Even in a public setting, the privacy of others must be respected and if someone feels unsafe due to the actions of others, they should report it to the police.”