Control Over Chaos
Lawyer Carrie Goldberg fights for sexual privacy.
By October 9, 2019 - last reviewed on November 5, 2019published
Carrie Goldberg’s life was plunged into chaos when an ex-boyfriend began to cyberstalk, blackmail, and file false police reports against her. Goldberg fought back via the legal system, eventually becoming the cybercrime expert that she had so desperately needed. The 42-year-old lawyer has battled platforms like Grindr and drafted nonconsensual pornography legislation that has been implemented in states across the country. In her new book, Nobody’s Victim, Goldberg shares heartbreaking but inspiring stories of fighting, in her words, “psychos, stalkers, pervs, and trolls.”
How can trauma survivors begin healing?
The one thing that all of our clients have in common is that someone took away their control. When they’re the victims of nonconsensual pornography, they lose control of their privacy and image. Being stalked, impersonated on a dating app, or offered as a prostitute deprives people of the right to be left alone. Sexual assault eliminates the control they have over their body. Tech also plays an insidious role; we don’t have control of our online reputation. We can’t remove websites easily or control Google results. If we’re stalked or harassed online, we’re at the mercy of powerful institutions.
In my case, I couldn’t find anybody with the right skills to help me. So I started making decisions—going to the police, going to family court, hiring an attorney, firing that attorney, and moving to a new apartment. All of these decisions were rooted in self-reliance. Stopping something that had been so uncontrollable made me into a new person. That’s what I want for my clients.
One of my clients was raped by a classmate. He filmed it, and the video went viral via Facebook Messenger. When the school found out, the principal told my client’s mom to keep her at home because she was a distraction to the other kids and the tape would continue circulating if she were at school. That was that. No one followed up with her. They deprived her of an education.
When I first met with her, she was a zombie. She was going through the motions, and she didn’t make eye contact, speak, or eat. The first step was helping her make the decision to eat. Things at school were really tough, so we asked, “Do you want to transfer or do you want to go back to school? Let’s talk about it. This is your decision.” We had to decide whether to file a lawsuit against the school or the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. Her preference was to try to change the system before she sought justice for herself. She’s a 14-year-old who held the Department of Education—the biggest “school district” in the country—accountable for the way they treat victims. After the fight, the Department of Education was given a budget to hire nine more Title IX coordinators to help victims. She made it better for other people. At a rally, she delivered a speech and comforted other victims. She turned into a total warrior.