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Ex-Rep. Katie Hill on fallout of alleged revenge porn leak

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  • Former Rep. Katie Hill wrote a piece in The New York Times about the fallout from her resignation from Congress.
  • In October, media outlets published leaked nude photos of Hill. She also admitted to having had a relationship with one of her campaign staffers, though she denied a separate allegation of having a relationship with her legislative director.
  • “In the days leading up to my resignation, my life was just like everyone’s worst nightmare,” Hill wrote.
  • Hill said she struggled with suicidal thoughts, but is now motivated to advocate for victims of cyber exploitation, also known as “revenge porn.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Former Rep. Katie Hill wrote in a New York Times op-ed that she struggled with suicidal ideation in the aftermath of an alleged “revenge porn” incident. 

Hill was elected in November 2018 to serve as the US representative for California’s 25th Congressional district. She announced her intent to resign from Congress roughly one year later, after news broke that she had been in a relationship with a campaign aide.

Nude photos of Hill were also published by two media outlets without her consent. Hill said she believes her estranged husband Kenny Heslep was behind the leak, although she notes that he has said he was hacked. Hill and Heslep are divorcing.

“Many people have nightmares in which they’re naked in public, trapped and trying to escape,” Hill wrote. “In the days leading up to my resignation, my life was just like everyone’s worst nightmare.”

Hill said the stress of the situation left her “shaking, crying, throwing up” in the days after the photos were published.

Rep. Katie Hill

Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Zach Gibson/Getty Images)


She also said she and her family were also plagued by harassment. Crank callers phoned her, people stalked her relatives, her staffers received “lewd” threats, and someone even sent a letter containing mysterious powder to her office, Hill wrote.

She added that at a certain point she began experiencing suicidal ideation while hiding away in her apartment.

“Suddenly and with total clarity, I just wanted it all to be over,” she said.

Hill said the suicidal thoughts only stopped when she imagined how her family and friends would react to her death.

“I thought about the people I had already let down so much,” Hill wrote. “What would this do to my parents? To my brother and sister?”

Since her resignation, Hill has advocated on behalf of victims of revenge porn, an increasingly prevalent issue where perpetrators publish intimate photos of their victims. Hill has vowed to press governments to pass stricter laws protecting victims in cases of digital exploitation. 

“I don’t get to quit,” Hill wrote. “I have to keep going forward, and be part of the fight to create the change that those young girls are counting on.”

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