Former “Love Island” star Georgia Harrison has revealed that her social media following played a huge part in helping her get justice after her ex-boyfriend Stephen Bear shared private sexual footage without her consent. When she learnt of an explicit video circulating online, she called upon her 1.2million Instagram followers for support. “I just felt like my dignity was already gone. Everyone was sending this around, it was time to get some help,” she tells POPSUGAR.
Harrison became the victim of revenge porn when a video of her having consensual sex with Bear was captured on CCTV cameras in his garden in Loughton, Essex, without her knowledge. When Bear showed her the footage, she asked him to never send it to anyone, only to discover it had been circulating online in August 2020 — including being sold on Bear’s personal OnlyFans site.
“That was just such a devastating moment for me. There’s intending to cause distress, and then there’s selling that video, that I never even gave permission to be filmed, on the internet,” Harrison adds. “To be treated like that by someone that once you really did care for and love, it was just heartbreaking thinking he would do that to me.”
“This [case] is going to change the way society looks at this sort of a crime, and for that, all I can be is grateful.”
After a gruelling two year wait for the trial, during which Harrison found herself without work and forced to move back home, Bear was finally sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on 3 March to 21 months in prison. He was found guilty of two counts of disclosing private sexual images with intent to cause distress, as well as receiving a majority verdict of 10-2 on the count of voyeurism. Bear was also given a restraining order to not contact Harrison for five years, ordered to sign the sex offenders register, and will need to disclose his whereabouts to the police for 10 years.
Now, Harrison is determined to help others and raise awareness of the crime via a new ITV documentary airing on Monday, 20 March, titled “Revenge Porn: Georgia vs Bear”, during which she details the mental and physical toll it took on her. “I just completely did deteriorate. I was having panic attacks, I had anxiety on a level that you wouldn’t even believe. I still find it hard in certain public places where it is really busy, especially if I don’t have a friend or family member with me,” she says. “But as time has gone on, I’m just lucky that I have such a strong friendship group and such a strong family. I’ve had therapy along the way as well. It’s just been a massive healing journey for me, but my mates are amazing, they make me feel so good about myself, and that’s what I need.”
While she has a strong network around her, she also found enormous support with her social media followers. “When I first got the message to see that [the footage] had gone viral, and it was in America, I was obviously really shocked — surely he wouldn’t have wanted this video to go viral and ruin my career, but also his own career,” Harrison explains. “And then as time went on, this is when I thought, ‘I need to ask my followers to help me’ because I know that video is out there, people are watching it around the globe.”
Harrison discovered that people she knew had seen the video, but were reluctant to take action and report it. Instead, the TOWIE star turned to social media to urge her followers to send her mum, who was acting as her agent at the time, an email with links to the video if they came across it. This put Harrison in a vulnerable position, making herself identifiable in the explicit content. “I asked my followers if they had any evidence and, although that took away my right to anonymity, it really did highlight it was me in the video and it also got me the evidence that meant Bear got his conviction.”
Throughout the traumatic ordeal, Harrison was flooded with messages from others going through something similar, which led to her making the documentary. “I can now look back on it as something that was maybe meant to happen,” she reflects. “And this [case] is going to change the way society looks at this sort of a crime, and for that, all I can be is grateful.”
“Revenge Porn: Georgia vs Bear” is on ITV2 & ITVX at 10pm on Monday, 20 March.
If you or someone you know is a victim of revenge porn, the Revenge Porn Helpline has resources to help and support you.