My sociopathic ex-husband, James Montgomery, had a collection of photos of naked women. The photos were not of me.
I discovered the photos one day while he wasn’t home and I was looking for a phone number. I opened his desk drawer, and there they were — no faces, just pictures of certain body parts.
Stunned, I threw the photos in the trash. When Montgomery came home, I confronted him.
“I found your photos. Who are these women?” I demanded.
Montgomery was nonchalant. “They’re from my past. Nothing for you to worry about.”
“Why do you have them?” I demanded.
“I look at them from time to time. It helps me stay faithful to you. Where are they?”
“I threw them away.”
At this Montgomery became angry. “You can’t do that. They’re mine,” he retorted. He then fished the pictures out of the trash.
I did not argue further. By this point in our marriage, I knew something was dreadfully wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. I knew that the “helps me stay faithful to you” excuse was preposterous. But quite frankly, with our precarious financial situation — caused by my husband — I didn’t have the energy to worry about naked pictures of other women.
Sociopaths threaten with explicit photos
Sociopaths seem to like acquiring explicit photos — and videos — of their targets. Of course, many consenting adults also share explicit images. But now, with the Internet, what may have been titillating can now be threatening.
In the hands of sociopaths, explicit photos of their targets become means of exploitation, even blackmail. Here are some examples:
Many Lovefraud readers have told me stories of sociopaths who taken intimate pictures of them, either with or without their knowledge, or who have convinced them to take pictures of themselves.
Later, especially when the target wants to end the involvement, the sociopaths threaten to post the images on the Internet. The Lovefraud readers, mortified, asked me what they could do.
I didn’t have an answer for them. I doubted going to the authorities would be helpful, because from what I’ve heard, police seem to consider any problems between partners to be “domestic issues,” and if someone isn’t beaten up or dead, they don’t want to get involved.
New Jersey man arrested
So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the following headline in my local newspaper, the Press of Atlantic City.
Police search home of man accused of sharing “inappropriate photos” of ex
A woman complained to the North Wildwood Police Department that her ex, Ernest “Drew” Paulus III, was sharing lewd photos of her and months earlier had pointed a shotgun at her head.
Instead of telling the woman to go away, they escorted her to the Lower Township Police Department to get a restraining order, got a search warrant for the perpetrator’s residence, and sent a SWAT team to arrest him.
I was amazed at the strong police response.
Now, both of these communities are small. North Wildwood has a population of 4,000, although it’s a seaside resort, so there are many more people in the summer. Lower Township is essentially a collection of tiny hamlets scattered over 31 square miles. Maybe that’s why these police departments acted — being small towns, they may be able to pay attention to cases that fall through the cracks in larger cities with more problems.
And maybe the fact that the guy also threatened with a shotgun played a part in the decision to arrest him. Still, I was pleased to see that they took action.
Violating the law
According to the Cape May County Herald, Ernest “Drew” Paulus III was charged with:
- Aggravated assault
- Possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose
- Terroristic threats
- Invasion of privacy for recording images without consent
- Invasion of privacy for sharing images without consent
- Possession of controlled dangerous substances
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
This led me to look up the law in New Jersey. And yes, it is illegal in New Jersey to photograph or record sexually explicit images without that person’s consent. It is also illegal to disclose the images without that person’s consent.
However, it is not a violation of the law to record the images or share them if the person has consented.
Here’s the New Jersey law:
Recording or sharing explicit images may or may not be illegal where you live. If you’re dealing with this situation, look up the law in your area.
Sociopaths and leverage
I don’t know if Ernest Drew Paulus III is a sociopath. But I do know that sociopaths want power and control over their targets. Sex, and sexually explicit photos, provide them with leverage.
With their charisma, charm and considerable sexual magnetism, sociopaths can present the idea of taking pictures or making a video as exciting, and cajole you into going along with it. Of course they’ll promise that it’s just for the two of you to enjoy, and no one else will ever see it.
But today, once an image is created — well, it may go anywhere.
No one would participate in sexually explicit photos with a known sociopath. So the problem arises when these images or videos are made before you know you’re dealing with a sociopath.
So here’s the bottom line: Never consent to sexually explicit photos. And certainly do not make explicit photos of yourself to share.
If you meet someone on the Internet, and this person wants you to share sexually explicit photos, DO NOT DO IT. (CAPITAL LETTERS FOR EMPHASIS.)
They may offer to share photos of themselves first. Please recognize that this is a typical con artist technique. The idea is to prove that they trust you, so you should trust them. DO NOT DO IT.
If you are with a dating partner who tries to take explicit photos of you, do not allow it. Even though you may feel like you are head over heels in love, and the person would never hurt you — well, as we at Lovefraud know, sociopaths are really good at seduction, especially in the beginning of the relationship. If your relationship with your partner changes down the line, even if the person isn’t disordered, the photos could become a liability.
In my opinion, all sexually explicit photos and videos are dangerous.
Remember: Today, with digital technology, images can live forever. And if you consent to sexually explicit photos, you may lose the ability to go after someone who has them, or releases them.