Leaked sex video upended woman’s life, new bill against digital violence offers hope and healing

One afternoon, my cell phone rang in Buenos Aires. My sister’s friend told me a video of me was circulating. I listened, confused, as I already forgot about that footage. When she described the video, I grasped the seriousness of the situation. From that moment, hell broke loose in my conservative and religious family and city.

  • 1 month ago
  • June 19, 2024
7 min read
Chachi practicing yoga | Photo courtesy of Chachi Telesco Chachi practicing yoga | Photo courtesy of Chachi Telesco
journalist’s notes
interview subject
Fernanda “Chachi” Telesco, a 39-year-old native of Rafaela in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina, has been a resident of Buenos Aires since the age of 18. With a robust background in acting, dance, and musical comedy, Chachi gained widespread recognition through her participation in a reality show to star in the local version of High School Musical. Her career encompasses a diverse portfolio, including numerous advertising campaigns and roles in film, television, and theater. In 2018, she founded her own yoga school, a venture to which she has since dedicated herself passionately.
background information
In April 2024, the Chachi Telesco bill against digital violence was passed into law to prevent, investigate, punish, and provide reparation for victims of digital and media violence. Building on the Olimpia Law (National Law No. 27,736) and amending National Law No. 26,485, this initiative seeks to extend Provincial Law No. 13,348. It includes reforms to the Coexistence Code to classify digital harassment, non-consensual electronic surveillance, sextortion, cyberstalking, and identity theft as contraventions. Additionally, it proposes a free and accessible service to provide support and resources for preventing digital harassment and violence. More details can be found here.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — My life completely changed when a video of me having sex with my boyfriend went viral at 21. I lost jobs, faced harassment legally and socially, and the media relentlessly pursued me. As time went on, I began to withdraw. This year, however, a group of legislators introduced a bill in my honor to protect others from the same ordeal. For the first time, I began to heal. The weight of oppression finally lifted, and I felt liberated.

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The devastation of a public sex video

At 20 years old, I lived in Buenos Aires as I tried to break into the artistic world. I started a relationship and experienced a beautiful sort of love. My boyfriend and I always explored new ways of expressing our feelings. We wrote poems to each other and filmed each other in daily situations.

One day, we filmed ourselves having sex. We set the camera beside the bed, aiming to capture our connection and the way we became one as our bodies intertwined. Afterward, we watched the video but felt it did not reflect our emotions, so we deleted it.

Soon after, I asked my dad to make a video for my birthday and sent my camera’s memory card to him in my hometown of Rafaela. He gave it to a cousin, who somehow discovered my intimate video, copied it, and sold DVDs everywhere.

One afternoon, my cell phone rang in Buenos Aires. My sister’s friend told me a video of me was circulating. I listened, confused, as I already forgot about that footage. When she described the video, I grasped the seriousness of the situation. From that moment, hell broke loose in my conservative and religious family and city.

When I won the trial against my cousin and they reclaimed all the DVDs with my video, I thought the catastrophe was over.

My acting aspirations ended in humiliation the moment they played a video I had not seen in years

The following year, as my artistic dream steadily progressed, I joined a reality show which would choose the starring couple for the Argentine version of High School Musical. Quickly, I advanced in casting amongst thousands of participants and became the favorite to win. I felt ecstatic, thrilled to reach the place I always dreamed of.

On July 9, 2007, the last time it snowed in Buenos Aires, we all went out to enjoy the landscape. Amid the celebration, a production member approached me with a smile, took my hand, and said, “Come on, we need to talk.” As soon as we entered the building, his smile disappeared. I thought they were going to offer me a special highlight at the next gala, but his sudden seriousness told me otherwise.

We arrived at a room, and as the door opened, I saw about ten people in suits sitting around a table. I had never seen them before. In the middle remained a laptop. “Hello, Fernanda, please sit down,” they said as they hit play on a video. The room filled with moans of pleasure, and it took me a moment to realize they were mine.

Since the day I recorded it, I never saw that video again. Heat filled my body and embarrassment overwhelmed me. They seemed unmoved, explaining legal issues and terminating my contract. I struggled to focus. My moans echoed through the speakers, my naked body filled the screen, and no one stopped the video. I felt humiliated and abused and went into a state of shock.

October 2023 milestone: Argentina passes Olimpia bill into law to shield digital violence victims

The staff took me to a hotel, separating me from the rest of the cast. No one visited me. The next day, when I went out to buy food, a barrage of journalists swarmed me. Cameras and microphones crowded around, demanding answers. From them on, I struggled to return to my normal life. For over six months, the media harassed my siblings, mom, and dad. They even offered me money to appear naked in more shows and magazines. I stayed locked in the hotel, vomiting, and battling anorexia nervosa.

When things simmered down, I became quiet and distrustful of people. I lost the desire for sex and refused to socialize with people I did not already know. When I finally started to reclaim my sexuality, it felt strange and joyless. I felt like a living ghost with parts of me shut down, detached from reality. Acting no longer felt like the space I imagined.

The media acted with cruelty, and I only obtained offers for roles that focused on being sexy, without exploring new characters and stories. One day, in the dressing room, I looked at myself in the mirror and asked myself, “What do you truly want from life?” I decided to give up everything and take refuge in yoga, an activity I started at 15 years old.

All that time, I kept quiet about my experiences. By avoiding the subject, I tried to make it disappear from my life, but it never did. In October 2023, my sister sent me a link to a news article. Argentina passed the Olimpia bill against digital violence into law in my honor to protect victims of digital violence. Reading the news at home it felt like a volcano erupted inside me. Something unlocked in my mind. It felt as if a faucet I closed at 21 suddenly opened, releasing everything that had accumulated.

From online catharsis to legislative change: The new Chachi Telesco Law 2024

In a moment of absolute clarity, I grabbed my cell phone, turned on the front camera, and started recording myself. I uploaded stories to social media, which felt cathartic. I named everyone who hurt me, mocked me, and contributed to my downfall. Thanks to the Olimpia law, I finally understood what they owed me on an ethical, moral, and spiritual level. Once I got everything out, it felt like a stone had been lifted from my chest.

I started receiving thousands of messages every day, filled with apologies and support. Those nights, I slept better than I did in years. The weight lifted from my shoulders and back, and I finally felt heard. It seemed as if the 38-year-old woman I became nurtured the hurting 21-year-old girl inside me.

This year, when a group of female legislators in my province of Santa Fe sent me the bill to read, I felt surprised and gratified. As I read it, I realized the first pages of the presentation told my story. It felt hard to relive everything, and tears filled my eyes as I went along. This new Chachi Telesco law deeply moved me, and I felt truly healed. Seeing others stand up for me with sexual openness and determination made me feel free.

I know now that people will continue this fight, and I can let go. Today, I look back with no regrets. What I endured gave me the depth of experience I needed to direct a school of yoga, spirituality, and wellness. My non-linear emotional life equipped me to guide those who arrive at our doors facing serious problems. I feel like I achieved alchemy, turning something worthless into gold.

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