Victim of Sextortion Speaks Out
Ashley Reynolds was 14 when she was victimized by online predator Lucas Michael Chansler in 2009.
Ashley Reynolds: I first got Myspace when I was in fifth grade, and my mom was on top of that all the time and "stranger danger" and what not, and just "don’t talk to strangers and people you don’t know." So there is always that fear in my head, but nothing too...
This could never happen to me—I’m Ashley, this can’t happen to me, I’m normal. But little did I know that I ended up getting terrorized, is the only way I can think, of it by this guy.
I just remember getting this message that the subject line said something about naked pictures that he has of me. I ignored it. I didn’t know who he was, I didn’t want to answer it or even open it up.
It was never me believing that he was some charming 16-year-old older boy or something, that I could be talking to making a relationship out of, it was never like that. It was pure business it felt like. It was an exchange.
I gave him the pictures and I got to keep my reputation.
He was not going to stop and he was set on sharing my picture with whoever he could to ruin my reputation.
I felt like a slave. I had to make sure I had replied to every message. I had to give him an explanation I feel like, why wasn’t I replying? And my lies of everything and what I was doing and what not. Having him know, "I’m sorry I have school in the morning. I have to do this. I am at school until this time."
I had my nights where I just felt—I really did—I just felt depressed.
I remember just lying in bed in silence and just thinking. I felt like God was so disappointed in me, and I didn’t know what to do. I wouldn’t get home until late at night and then I'd have to send him all these pictures. And as I'm doing this, he would be like, "No this isn’t right. This one is blurry," or, "You didn’t do this right, you weren't doing it right, you gotta do it again."
That’s where being a slave to him comes in, because I had to make sure I complied and I sent him all this because, one, maybe tomorrow I’ll get a break. I’ll get a day off tomorrow if I just do all these right. I never wanted to send them or give him what he wanted, but I wanted my freedom, I guess. So I figured the only way to do that is if I do it right, but nothing was ever right.
I didn’t even want to believe what I was doing, and it would be so awkward... I don’t even like telling my parents—I’m 20—I don’t like telling my parents if I have a boyfriend or not.
I’m a quiet person, I keep my business to myself. I just didn’t want my parents to be disappointed in me. I can't—it’s just embarrassing to talk about.
I still remember going into the bedroom where the computer was. My parents sat me down, I was like, instant panic attack. My heart and stomach was just, I was like, I don’t know what to do right now. How am I going to explain this? And then I got brought in the room and I had to come clean once my mom showed me the messages that she saw.
That was a relief. It was—it took me a while to realize it was a relief. At first it was embarrassment and like awkward and crying, and I was afraid because I didn’t want to go to jail for sexting, and then at least someone knew. And there’s no way to describe just having someone know and like I'm free, I guess. I don’t even have to go into detail to say what I went through. Just knowing that someone else knows, that someone else is aware, that I am not the only one who knows what I have been doing. It is just bricks off of your back.
As awkward as it could be, depending on how close you are with your parents, you’re going to feel a whole...not awkward—that’s heaven compared to feeling alone and closed and by yourself.
But I just wish there were, like, outlets—available outlets—for a 14-year-old’s brain if they are too afraid to go to their parents, because they don’t want to go to their parents and tell them what’s happening to them. So if they had a different way to go about it, then I think that would make it a lot more comfortable and it would make it, it would kind of start get the ball rolling for them and to put an end to what they are going through.
This is something that came into my life, and as horrible and bad as it is, I know that I can help. I can—how people want to be, like, a doctor and save someone—I want to help someone who is in this situation that gets overlooked all the time. We weren’t raped. We are overlooked because nobody actually touched us.
I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me. I don’t need anyone to feel bad for me. I feel like, use that energy and just get the word out.
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