White House Task Force Addressing Online Harassment and Harms: 2023 Survivor Listening Session
On June 20, 2023, C.A. Goldberg, PLLC Client Relations Director Norma Buster spoke at a listening session hosted by the White House Task Force Addressing Online Harassment and Harms.
At the private convening of “lived experience experts,” former clients of C.A. Goldberg, PLLC gave recommendations alongside advocates from the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, and other survivors, to members of the Task Force Addressing Online Harassment and Harms (you may remember our founder Carrie Goldberg spoke at the Task Force launch in June 2022).
In her testimony, Client Relations Director Norma, who was also a client of C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, explained: “When I was 19, my ex-boyfriend of 2 years stalked me for months before posting my naked pictures online. I lived in New Jersey, 1 of 3 states at the time with a law addressing image-based sexual abuse, but it wasn’t until I’d meet my lawyer, Carrie Goldberg, that I’d finally start get help. I was eventually able to obtain a lifetime restraining order and criminal charges against my ex. And now my lawyer is my boss.”
She advocated for better law enforcement training and access to factually accurate, comprehensive, sex education, and consent education, saying: “The absence of real sex ed and consent training is leaving an entire generation of kids grasping for information about sex online, looking to porn but without the knowledge to understand it and without the context for what *real* healthy sexual relations are. This, coupled with viral misogynist, homophobic, racist influencers gaining popularity on mainstream social media, leads to more toxic incel-type behavior and isolation, making these kids prone to aggressions online. Or on the other hand, they fail to learn how to create and respect their own boundaries and lose the ability to speak up when something doesn’t feel right.” She added “increased support is vital to survivors, but if we actually want to stop online abuse at the source, we need to address the tech companies facilitating and profiting from it.”
The following day, the Reclaim Coalition to End Online Image-based Sexual Violence launched their initiative to bring together a global network of leaders to accelerate the global response to online image-based sexual violence through shared initiatives across advocacy, policy, technology, and survivor services.
In her opening remarks at the launch of The Reclaim Coalition to End Online Image-based Sexual Violence, another client of C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, Former U.S. Representative, Katie Hill, explained her experience with image-based sexual abuse: “Once in office, I quickly rose to obtain leadership positions and was often referred to as a rising star of the Democratic Party. But behind the scenes during my campaign and after, I was trying to leave an abusive relationship. My ex threatened to ruin me if I left, but after 6 months as a member of congress I finally worked up the courage to do so. But I paid the price for it.”
Another former C.A. Goldberg, PLLC client and advocate Matthew Herrick also spoke: “The common thread within all of this has been the lack of knowledge, understanding, and inadequate laws put in place to navigate sexual based image violence and the technology that facilitates it. These roadblocks stood in my way before I could even start. Victims cannot even begin to battle this cruelty without a system in place that allows them a path to seek justice,” Herrick said.
Going forward, the Reclaim Coalition will aim to facilitate the exchange of knowledge among coalition members to accelerate collaboration and joint action, amplify advocacy for survivor-informed laws and policies, and support increased opportunities for lived experience leadership to uplift survivor’s expertise, insights, and experiences.