Some people use technology to make lives easier and more convenient while others choose to abuse it. As social networking sites remain popular to all ages, they are also used for blackmailing victims. One of which is posting nude photos of a hapless victim and the perpetrator will only take it down if the victim will give in to their demands. Some victims will choose to nod along with whatever they are told to do for fear of humiliation. However, there are cases that you can file under Republic Act 9262.
I have an ex who has posted nude photos of me online in the past, linked to my online social media, and posted my full name and where I live. I am concerned he may do so again once he finds out I'm now in a PhD program (he's very jealous of any success I have), and may link to my school bio page, or worse.
University registrars and faculty are used to students having to change their name due to a variety of circumstances. You should be able to get new transcripts and letters issued under your new name without issue. But the abuser can also link images to your new name unless you can prevent him or he loses interest; so a name change is not a foolproof solution.
On the main question, consider the answers and comments on your question as a sample of academic reaction to your situation. I see lots of sympathy, support, and attempts to think of ideas to help you. That is what I would expect from your department if your ex were to try anything while you are a PhD student or professor.
I don't think a name change would be effective in your situation. To continue your academic career you need to maintain some contact with your old life to get letters of recommendation, degree transcripts etc.
However, if you are going to do a name change it would be best done before you start writing papers. Even if you are willing to abandon all connections to your early papers, you will still be publicly part of a network of collaborators, and your ex might be able to guess your new name from co-authorship.
Your ex wants you to curl up and hide. Every day you spend living your own life, ignoring him, and succeeding at what you want to do is a victory for you and for everyone who thinks revenge porn is a contemptible betrayal of trust.
You would not be violating any rules or regulations; and while a few people might - unjustly - form a poor opinion of your character, well, lots of academics form poor opinions on the character of lots of PhD candidates - usually for more valid reasons. Others have elaborated on this point more, I'd say it's pretty obvious.
You can't be fired for this reason, as, again, you've not done anything that merits being fired. As an untenured member of faculty your employment does, however, often depend on good relations with administration or senior faculty, and that in turn - with very low probability, mind you may be impacted by your nude photos incident, if people start gossiping about it.
Unless your job is at a super-religious super-conservative school, I really don't see it happening, and even at such a school its likely the effect would be not to want to give you tenure / promote you / socialize with you - at the worst.
Second, if anything, changing your name signals you believe you have done something wrong, something you're ashamed of. And you have not done any such thing! The only wrong was for him to publish the photos, not for any of you to take them.
You were certainly not foolish for taking them. It's extremely common, especially these days. I would venture to make a two-bit psychological assertion and say that you should not conflate being ashamed of being seen topless by strangers with shame for having been the victim of your boyfriend's revenge. I would say the first kind of shame is wholly unnecessary - but that's a question of personal morals; what's definitely true is that the person who needs to be ashamed for the photos having been published is just your a*****e boyfriend, not you!
Second, I think you should consider just letting this go. You said the photos are already down, so I assume they aren't the top search that comes up when you google your name? And even if they are, that will fade over time.
The reality is that as long as they're "hidden" from casual searching, you've covered the vast majority of concerns. If someone is really going to dig into your past, the sort of digging that might turn up old deleted photos, they might just as well turn up your name change too. Especially since I imagine you'll need to link back to your old name for transcripts, if nothing else.
To address one comment I saw, I would absolutely not tell your department. This was a crime against you, and isn't anyone's business. If they find out about it on their own, I expect they'll treat it thusly. It shouldn't be an unpleasant surprise to them, because this isn't about you. The only ones who should be unpleasantly surprised to find this are your ex's future employers.
I would be extremely surprised if any faculty or faculty member would look down on you for this, possibly unless their religion is involved, although for some topless portraits, I still think it would be unlikely. Even if some old fuddy-duddy did secretly harbour a negative view of it, they would not want to openly dwell on it. Revenge porn scandals are well known to all, and are disgusting to all, certainly of professional age, but the disgust is at the poster, not the victim.
Really though, nobody is going to be against you on this, the media is full of this stuff constantly, some topless pics are very tame compared (I'm really not trying to play down your embarrassment, it is a very horrible thing). And academia, more than some fields, is not where you generally find the type that might mock you for it, maybe in wolf of wallstreet type environments.
For your PhD program, the university rules should be pretty clear about what is serious enough to be chucked out. Normally that needs something like a criminal conviction. So it seems unlikely that you'd have problems there.
Similarly as a professor/lecturer, you'd be an employee. At that point your employment contract will be relevant, and again you would need to be guilty of gross misconduct to be fired. It could be an issue if the pics surface during the hiring process though, because it's very hard to prove why you haven't been asked back for a second interview. Of course "at-will" employment is an issue, but most places would rather hold onto good people than train up someone unknown.
I've had a similar problem with my ex. In her case, she posted stuff to my company's Facebook page. My boss has enough class that his question was not "what are you up to?" but "please can you stop her doing this again?", because clearly it wasn't done with my consent! Luckily I didn't have to get the cops involved. And TBH, if the people you're working with are likely to be unprofessional about this, you really don't want to be working there anyway.
Frankly, we live in a time where no "misdeed" ever can be assumed to stay hidden forever; you can assume that there is simply a photograph of anything you do in your life; you can assume that anyone will be able to plant cameras or take drone photographs at any location and time, at a level that was previously only accessible to top specialists of the secret arts.
If this happened with one of my graduate students, I wouldn't care about the photos. I would care that someone with a personal grudge was harassing my research assistant, and I'd consider what might be done to see that the harassment stops. I think this view is shared by quite a few people in academia. We are concerned with the your contributions to research and teaching, and your personal life isn't our business for the most part.
How you approach the issue has a lot of influence on how others will handle it. If you can manage to take it in stride and not let it affect your activities at the university, that will probably be noted and appreciated.I think this is much less of an issue in a graduate program and in college teaching situations where we are all, ostensibly, adults. Unfortunately, all it takes is an administrator or person in a position of sufficient authority with the wrong attitude to make this difficult for you.
I agree with the other posters that topless photos are unlikely to hurt your career, although I would add that you may have problems if you're at a religious institution. For example, topless photos could get you expelled from Liberty University, a Christian college run by Jerry Falwell's son. A professor was fired from Wheaton College after wearing a hijab in solidarity with Muslims, although the school claims it was for her views on Islam. According to this article, professors at religious colleges "have been fired or forced to resign for coming out as transgender, for getting pregnant outside marriage, or for getting divorced".
Apparently, you were good on these photos. So, in private talks, do whatever you wish, but in PhD matters, it's none of their business. Nobody will ever dare say a word if you do proper research. If asked, you can be witty or not, depending on your skills ("Ha-ha, you were not that good 10 years ago!"), but do change the topic immediately ("Could we speak about the zeta-function?").
If you were to go and work in a situation where security is concerned, this may effect your suitability for the position. This is not about the fact that you let the photos be taken or the content of the photos, it is about the fact the photos exist and that you wish to keep them private.
A lot of times when people try to understand why their ex is posting so much on social media, the first place they turn to is their friends or family, and oftentimes those friends and family are actually quite cruel to them.
Also, please note that pictures of the Other Woman or Other Man are not to be used to beat yourself up. Work on your Trinity (more on that in the EBR Pro resources) and your own inner and outer beauty, and outshine the Other by being the Ungettable Girl. 2b1af7f3a8