Emily Sears is a L.A.-based model originally from Australia. Like most models, she regularly shares snaps of her photo shoots and selfies on social media, which has built her a big following of fans.
Over the years, Emily's been open to talking to her 2.3 million fans. But there was one thing that kept landing in her inbox that was becoming a problem: unsolicited dick pics.
"I usually receive at least one or two dick pics per day, at minimum," Emily told BuzzFeed News. "It's just been consistently happening for so long. I became absolutely fed up with these kinds of disturbing and disgusting messages and comments online."
So one day, she decided to do something about it: let the girlfriends of the men sending the nude photos know how their partner was behaving online.
Emily was not alone: Her friend Laura, a DJ also based in L.A., says she has also been sent unsolicited nude photos for years across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
"I think the first time I decided to contact a girlfriend was probably close to two years ago when I opened my Instagram inbox to yet another dick pic with an explicit caption about wanting to fuck me from some random guy I'd never spoken to," Laura told BuzzFeed News.
"I wrote back, telling him that his behavior was terrible, and he replied with a string of sexual slurs and abuse, and kept calling me a slut."
When Laura clicked on the profile of the man to block him, she noticed almost every photo he had posted was with his girlfriend, and was described in captions by his girlfriend as "the best boyfriend ever!"
"I guess I felt really sad for her," Laura said. "So I sent her a message with a screenshot of our conversation telling her that I was really sorry, but I thought she deserved to know how her boyfriend was behaving towards other women.
"I know if the roles were reversed and it was my boyfriend sending that shit out, I would want to know."
The pair have made it a regular thing: Click on the men's profiles, see if they have a partner, and send a message. Sometimes they take a screengrab of the wife's or girlfriend's profile and send it back to the men.
"We send the photos as a reminder for them to have respect for women," Emily said. "I think it provides an accountability that people seem to lose online; being behind a screen gives people a false sense of anonymity."
"I have noticed since posting my responses as a warning that the number has been significantly lower. I think my followers are slowly getting the message."
The pair don't always hear a response back from the girlfriends or wives. However, when they contact the men with photos of their partners' profile page, the reaction is usually a "panicked apology."
"Their apologies always seem fake," Emily said. "Sometime they try and say their friend stole their phone, and that it wasn't them. I don't believe they're sorry so much as they're sorry you're putting them on blast."
Many people have thanked the women for raising awareness of a "what's really happening" to women online, not just models with fan bases.
"This isn't just happening to models with a big followings," Emily said. "It's happening when women are online dating and denying matches with men. It can happen to any woman online, just like it can happen to any woman walking down the street."
Emily and Laura say it is "undeniable" that online harassment, such as being on the receiving end of unsolicited nude photos and videos, is a prevalent problem for women.
They say they want to use their platform to draw more attention to the issue, and believe by sharing the screengrabs, they are helping show people that "women aren't making this stuff up."
"I actually find it really absurd that men are still sending unsolicited dick pics to women considering how much dialogue there has been about how much we don't like it and how inappropriate it is," Laura told BuzzFeed.
"I've never heard a woman say, 'Really? I love opening my inbox to dick pics from random guys! It totally makes me want to have sex with them!' And yet, they're still doing it with an alarming frequency."
Despite the support from many women online, Emily says it's not always easy to be vocal about the problem.
"I get messages from men who say we're 'sluts who are asking for it', which can get pretty overwhelming," Emily said. "But I truly believe its a huge social problem reflecting the attitude many men have towards women and I want to keep trying to fight against it."
The two women told BuzzFeed News they will continue to "hold people accountable", and are encouraging other women to take the same action if it ever happens to them, too.
"I think the best thing to do is to just keep the dialogue happening," Emily said. "We have to keep telling the guys why what they're doing is wrong. I'm pretty sure when a guy sends me a dick pic and I respond with a screenshot of his girlfriend's Facebook and a message that says, 'How is your girlfriend gonna feel when she sees how you treat women?' they're probably not gonna do it again any time soon."
Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rossalyn Warren at email@example.com.
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