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Revenge Porn

revenge porn advice

WHAT IS REVENGE PORN?

The term “revenge porn,” though frequently used, can be misleading. Some perpetrators are not motivated by revenge or by any personal feelings toward the victim at the time the incident occurs, but are spurred to leverage intimate or explicit tapes or photos after breakups, fights, or other hurtful actions. The legal and perhaps more accurate term is “nonconsensual pornography (NCP),” defined as the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent.
Kanye West raps about it in his song, Clique: “My girl a superstar all from a home movie.” Yes, some contend that Kim Kardashian’s “sex tape” with singer Ray-J did make her famous, or at least catapult her and her family’s budding careers. Yet, we all know that sex tapes do not often make people famous – in fact, the quite opposite. When in the wrong hands, intimate acts caught on mobile phone cameras or handheld recorders, even when intentional and willful, can turn into tools for bullies.

PREVENTING REVENGE PORN

The only way to ensure you will not become a victim of revenge porn, is to not share intimate images or allow any explicit images of yourself to be taken. Once an image is shared, you lose control of it and there will always be a risk of that image being shared again. Rule of thumb here is, if you don’t think your family and friends would like to see it, don’t’ share it!

As many cases of revenge porn come about following a relationship breakdown, it would make sense for people to think about establishing boundaries regarding social media and the sharing of personal images before the relationship reaches that level. A harmless selfie on a date is not a worry but anything that is intimate or explicit should be thought through carefully. Establishing trust is easy when both parties are keen to explore relationships, but this trust can easily breakdown, so be prepared.

In the U.S. and U.K., social media prenuptial agreements are becoming more common as couples look to protect themselves legally, not only from a financial perspective, but also from damages to their personal/professional digital reputation through revenge porn or other online harassment and abuse.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF REVENGE PORN

First, do not blame yourself – despite this being the easiest road to take. If we think back to the statistic – that 38% of men and 35% of women have sent their partners an explicit photograph of themselves – someone reading this has likely “sexted” before. What you can do is think before you hit send – the media has adopted campaigns and public service announcements to help remind teens and adults that sexting is a choice (however, we realize there are instances when people feel pressured to do this).

If your photos are on social media platforms such as Twitter, they provide a short, easy form to report the photos and get them removed. Revenge porn victims can also utilize other domain tools to find contact information about policies and emails to request photos/videos be removed. In most instances, the images are considered to be ‘selfies’, which means the person who took the picture is considered to own the copyright. Copyright Infringement or DMCA Takedowns, could be a quicker and much easier way to get images removed, as site owners do not want to be infringing on copyrights and will act quickly if they deem themselves to be in breach. Google have also responded to the spread of revenge porn by introducing clearer guidelines on removal of non-consensual, explicit or intimate images.

For further help with a revenge porn problem you can visit our Total Access Support section to learn more about the various ways we can help you with your particular situation Alternatively we have collated a list of useful organizations who can help you with some of the effects of revenge porn such as anxiety and depression.

Revenge Porn laws

If you are a victim of revenge porn or know someone who is, there may be legal help available to you. Contact your local police and make a report, they will be able to advise you. As of July 2017, in America, there are currently 38 states that have revenge porn laws, with legislation pending in seven additional states. Likewise, the U.K. has similar laws and since their enactment in 2015, over 200 persons have been successfully prosecuted. A new law became in effect in Scotland in early 2017 – called the Abusive Behavior and Sexual Harm Act and New Zealand also has protective legislation called the Harmful Digital Communications Act. Other countries including Canada, The Philippines and Israel have also criminalized non-consensual pornography.

THE IMPACT OF REVENGE PORN

Intimate acts or poses, even if performed consensually or willingly, can become public via screenshots, texting, emails, and the alike. When thinking of a personal reputation or “You are what Google says you are,” the consequences and damages are manifold.

REVENGE PORN AND MENTAL HEALTH

People who are victims of revenge porn may feel “dumb” for consenting to it but did so out of trusting the recipient. When this is betrayed, it instills enduring trust issues for future relationships. Victims of revenge porn often feel immense distress and feelings of anger, guilt, paranoia, depression, or even suicide. There may also be deterioration in personal relationships and feelings of isolation, stemming from the inherent trust issues that usually will extend beyond just the perpetrator.

These effects, if not properly addressed, can lead to long-term coping issues and mental health effects such as depression, shame, withdrawal, low self-esteem, and feelings of worthlessness.

THE FINANCIAL COST OF REVENGE PORN

In addition to the psychological damage, victims of revenge porn may experience financial hardships. Sometimes, perpetrators demand hefty ransoms to return the photos or videos before their threats of mass-distribution become reality. Website reddit.com asked anonymous users to post about their experiences with revenge porn and how it affected their lives. Some of what was posted includes the following.

  • “I had to move away from the people who saw the images – they can never ‘unsee’ me naked.”
  • “I quit my job. My ex, who was friendly with my boss, threatened to show people at my company the images if I didn’t.”

Livelihoods, much like with personal attacks, are at stake and can costs thousands of dollars a month to scrub the internet of photos and videos. As noted on the Reddit website, some people have to quit or have lost their jobs due to threats or personal feelings of shame. Others have had to leave cities or schools because their peer network has seen the photos – all costly outcomes.

REVENGE PORN STATISTICS

Revenge porn has not been explored through research in as much depth as some of the other online harassment related problems. The following statistics are from a survey of 5000 adults conducted by dating website Match.com in 2012.

  • 57% of men and 45% of women had received an explicit photograph from their partners.
  • 38% of men and 35% of women sent their partners an explicit photograph of themselves.
  • 94% of Americans believe that their intimate photographs are safe in the possession of their current partners.
  • 10% of ex-partners have threatened to expose naked photographs of their ex-partners, and 60% of those who make such threats actually follow through.

In the U.K., the BBC reported that in England and Wales there had been 1,160 reported incidents of revenge porn from April 2015 to December 2015, with some victims reported being as young as 11 years old. However, 61% of reported offenses resulted in no action being taken against the alleged perpetrator.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND REVENGE PORN

With the advent of social media platforms and apps such as Snapchat or Confide, the ability to share revealing photos of oneself for spurts of time and “for your eyes only” has become more and more prominent, even spawning its own term – “sexting.” The first websites completely dedicated to revenge porn began surfacing in 2008, and the subject is now a feature section on over 3000 websites worldwide. If you multiply that with almost 3.3 billion internet users, the potential audience for revenge porn is frightening.

REVENGE PORN IN THE MEDIA

During an episode of Bravo reality show Vanderpump Rules that was filmed in 2013, reality star Stassi Schroeder revealed that she had performed a sexual act on a live webcam for a boyfriend who was out of town. Later, at the show’s reunion, Schroeder revealed that the act had been recorded without her knowledge and that the video was (at the time currently) being shopped around for potential buyers. Speculative purchasers included media and press, joking that it could become the next “Kim K. and Ray-J.”

After the reunion episode, Schroeder shared her feelings with the show’s producers. “I only did this one time… it only took one try.” “I don’t like reliving this.” “I remember when people first heard about it… people say I looked ‘hot’ but that didn’t help me.”

Some might call Schroeder very, very, very lucky. Her boss and namesake of the show, Lisa Vanderpump, paid the perpetrator 900 USD for the video in exchange for receiving the sole copy. Despite obtaining the footage before wide-release, Schroeder has publicly said she regretted the act and was humiliated in subsequent relationships.

Other celebrities have been victims of revenge porn even when they did not freely distribute photos or videos. In some instances, celebs housed photos on their personal mobiles or laptops and anonymous hackers gained unlawful access to the devices and threatened to go public unless they were paid ransoms; such was the case with Jennifer Lawrence.

REVENGE PORN CASE STUDY 1 (NAME WITHELD)

“I had no idea that my pictures were posted until a lawyer from California messaged me on Facebook informing me. Somebody had posted my nudes, with my Facebook and Twitter links underneath on one of those revenge websites. I still don’t know exactly who did it. The lawyer who contacted me was working on taking the website down as a class suit. It was a few months of stress, random people adding me on Facebook, and praying nobody I knew would see. Thankfully the website got shut down within 3 months or so. I was also only 16/17 in the pictures. Happened about 6-7 years ago. Shout out to that lawyer though, he was a big help and made me feel as comfortable as possible assuring he was going to have it shut down and not to pay any take-down fees.”

REVENGE PORN CASE STUDY 2

“I was being cyber and physically stalked, and my abuser knew every activity I was doing on social media – even with my accounts being private he somehow knew everything. I started getting emails to confirm my subscription to all sorts of porn mail and disgusting websites that I had never even visited, so I decided to google an old email address of mine that used my full name. The list that appeared in the Google results sent me into a state of panic! There were numerous websites, with pictures of my vagina, my name, where I lived, false stories, and slanderous comments about me. Although I immediately spiralled into a state of shock, I called the police. I learned, unfortunately, that I couldn’t do anything because I couldn’t prove it was him.”