The sickening chat rooms where men swap explicit photos of Welsh women

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Welsh women have described feeling violated after finding their photos were shared and requested by men on internet chat rooms. Threads on the Reddit web forum are home to dozens of men requesting and exchanging explicit photos of unsuspecting women.

Some threads are public and are often only live for a few days before being deleted. Others are set to private and only people approved by moderators can view photos and participate.

In chat rooms, people post pictures of women and ask if anyone knows who they are or has other pictures of them. There are offers to exchange photographs and explicit photographs are displayed.

Seren Jones, a 20-year-old teaching assistant from South Wales, found her picture was being shared. She wrote: “I have never been so disgusted and violated by anything in my entire life.”

She said the page she found her image on had 1,900 members who traded photos and videos for their own enjoyment. “Some charge money, some give away photos they have in exchange for someone else’s. It’s completely demeaning.

“The worst thing is that the owners of the page have hundreds of folders tagged with the names of the women and their photos… It doesn’t matter how old you are, who you are or what you look like. They have it all.”

Read more: Reports of sextortion double over the year and are the biggest problem for the helpline

WalesOnline was contacted by a 31-year-old teacher from South Wales, who did not want to be identified and we are calling Ellie. She discovered a photo of herself on a threat chat called “r/WelshGirls” with her name and city and users asking for explicit photos of her to “swap” or “share”.

The thread listed images, asking “Anyone know [girls name]of [girls hometown.” Other posts included ‘Any got Ystradgynlais girls to trade or w**k over dm me’, or ‘Any Port Talbot/Neath/Swansea girls? New phone nothing to trade’ and ‘Rhondda swaps’.

Ellie said: “I’m one of the lucky ones, as they were only asking and they couldn’t come up with any information or any photos about me. But the other people, there quite a lot of them, they’ve not been quite as fortunate.”

One user had collected a database of hundreds photos that had been exchanged, all being used as currency to swap and share in order to gain new photos, all being shared without consent. Ellie said: “I felt frightened [when I saw my name]because I don’t have my full name on Facebook, I don’t have a last name, because I’m a teacher, so that person knows me.”

She said: “I obviously reported it to Reddit, it was like every time I had a break from work I was pressing buttons and nothing came back. I was clicking harassment, images Indecent, I even clicked on minors because there’s no guarantee there aren’t any there.”



A screenshot of the now deleted thread



Files where a user saved images grouped by location including Cardiff, Newport, and Cwmbran
Files in which a user saved images grouped by location

Seren said a friend told her she was on edge. She says. “I had no idea such a thing existed,” she explained. “I was sick in bed, then one of my boyfriend’s friends messaged me and told me about it.

“I felt so sick. I just couldn’t believe something so disgusting existed.” A photo from one of Seren’s social media pages had been posted alongside his name and contact details. Much like Ellie, Seren considered herself one of the “lucky ones” that there was nothing else. “I felt really sick and really violated,” she continued, “I felt like someone was watching me.”

Reddit informed Ellie that the thread did not violate its terms and conditions, which led her to later speak to the police, who advised her not to make the thread public. She explained: “The police told me not to post on social media, because I said I wanted to let everyone know, but they told me not to, it could make things worse. things, and they just passed on to me.”

Seren also decided to report the page to the police, but said she had yet to receive a response. Seren also decided to post to the Facebook thread and has since set up a support group for women who have been affected.

She said: “I’ve had so many messages, maybe about 30 different women contacting me, saying they’ve been found on our site or a family member or friend of theirs has been there. ” Seren has since deleted pictures of herself from her social media, she explained: “I deleted all pictures of me even if it’s just a picture of my face, because I I don’t feel comfortable sharing anything anymore.”



Forum users upon realizing the page had been discovered
Forum users upon realizing the page had been discovered



The thread that was banned due to moderators leaving
The thread that was banned due to moderators leaving



One of the new forums created after the original was deleted
One of the new forums created after the original was deleted

The page’s moderators saw Seren’s warning being shared and left the thread, meaning Reddit eventually deleted the thread because it was unmoderated. As soon as the thread was discontinued, however, new ones appeared, all featuring similar content. After research, WalesOnline found that similar pages in many areas exist across the online platform, objectifying and degrading women without their consent.

One called r/WelshGirlsNSFW describes itself as “a friendly, body-positive place for those who live or currently live in Wales to share their photos. This community is strictly for adults 18+”. It’s set to private, which means “only approved members can view and participate in its discussions.”

WalesOnline has contacted Reddit for comment, but the platform has yet to respond. ACC Jenny Gilmer of South Wales Police said: ‘Tackling violence and abuse, including online abuse, against women and girls is a longstanding priority for South Wales Police of Wales and we recognize that the concern over personal safety and violence is as great as it has ever been.

“As a force, we have an excellent history of working in partnership. We target resources towards clear pathways to victim safety, supporting and empowering survivors, and investing in evidence-based interventions that attack the root causes, addressing the harmful attitudes and behaviors that lead to violence and abuse.

“We also have broader strategies to deal with other forms of violence, including domestic violence affecting men, and our approach is to treat each incident of violence on its own merits, while placing a clear emphasis about prevalence and threat, risk and harm.

“We recognize that anyone can be a victim and all victims who report incidents to us will receive a response.

“Each victim will be treated with sensitivity and respect. We will continue to develop responses to meet the needs of victims, and we will place a strong emphasis on interventions for women who we know are more likely to be victimized, in terms of frequency and severity of violence and abuse.

Seren added: “It’s a good start, obviously [the thread] got abducted and everything, and that’s peace of mind for a lot of other women who ended up on it. But obviously it will be very difficult and impossible to really control this stuff. But at least now people are aware of it. So you can keep an eye out and know if things come up and we can deal with them.”

**Name has been changed to protect the identity of the victim.

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