In Abuse, Cyber Safety, Harassment

Revenge Porn and its Victims

revenge porn

If you have been following the news lately, you may well have seen stories about hacked photos of nude celebrities. Celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande and Kate Upton have all been victims of this practice. In their cases the hacker then posted the nude pictures on the web for everyone to see. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding these actions; not only people who think hacker was wrong for stealing and posting, but also people blaming the celebrities for taking a nude pic in the first place. However this does not just happen with celebrities. Everyday men and women can also be the victims of revenge porn.

 

|SEE ALSO: How to Stop Looking at Porn|

 

What Is Revenge Porn?

What comes to mind when you hear the words Revenge Porn? Contrary to how it sounds, revenge porn is not a pornographic video with a script based on revenge choreographed by a director.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures:

“‘Revenge porn’ is the posting of nude or sexually explicit photographs or videos of people online without their consent, even if the photograph itself was taken with consent.” (State ‘Revenge Porn’ Legislation, 2014).

Often it is shared or distributed by a scorned lover, husband or boyfriend who wants revenge. Many websites exist for this specific type of revenge porn.

Some revenge porn websites are anonymous, but many allow the submitted porn to include personal information like full names and social media profile links, allowing people to find and potentially stalk the victim. A few websites will even charge a high fee to have the images or videos removed. These websites leave women feeling humiliated and devastated.

End Revenge Porn is an interactive campaign organized by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. It is dedicated to providing “support and advocacy for victims of revenge porn, or people whose intimate photographs and/or videos have been disseminated on the Internet without their consent.”

According to CCRI:

“Revenge porn is a form of sexual abuse that involves the distribution of nude/sexually explicit photos and/or videos of an individual without their consent. Revenge porn, sometimes called cyber-rape or non-consensual pornography, is usually posted by a scorned ex-lover or friend, in order to seek revenge after a relationship has gone sour.”

 

Who Is a Victim of Revenge Porn and Why?

Anyone can be a victim of revenge porn including women and men of all ages. A simple Google search of “ex revenge” brings up over forty million search results. The top results include revenge porn websites hosting nude photos of ex-girlfriends posted by scorned lovers. There are also many dedicated to hosting the materials stolen by hackers, as in the case of the leaked nude celebrities photos mentioned above.

Though men are more likely to submit revenge porn than women are, they are not the only ones who are scorning and objectifying people who choose to share their private photos and videos with someone they trust. Websites like Shesahomewrecker.com is a place for wives to share photos of the women who they suspect are their husband’s lovers. While these are not always explicit, they can include personal information like the victim’s name and location alongside personal stories from the scorned wives detailing how they found out about the cheating.

 

Who Facilitates Revenge Porn?

  • The hacker or person who submits or releases the photos and videos.
  • The website that the photos and videos.
  • The users who view the photos and videos.
  • The people who share the photos and videos.
  • News reports that tell you where the photos and videos are hosted.

 

Webcam hackers? Learn here!

 

All of these acts – posting, sharing and hosting private photos and videos – facilitate the violation of privacy that is causing the growing epidemic of revenge porn. This, in turn, provokes the shaming of those who choose to take private photos and videos. Revenge porn objectifies people by using them as entertainment for others’ fantasies. It also leads to “slut-shaming” from those who feel that the victims should have never taken the photos in the first place.

 

Why It Is Not Your Fault

Many of the comments you see on articles that discuss revenge porn, especially in the case of the nude celebrity photos that were leaked, are unsympathetic towards the women who took the photos or allowed someone else to take photos of them in the first place. Comments such as ‘She shouldn’t have taken the photos in the first place,’ and ‘she is a slut for taking those photos,’ are blaming the victims rather than blaming the perpetrator who posted the photo or video.

Even if you share nude photos with a boyfriend, girlfriend or anyone else, you are not giving that person the right to share those photos with the world. You are giving them those photos because you feel you can trust them and have confidence they will keep them private. Unfortunately, once the relationship with this person ends they may betray your trust and share the photos out of spite or a desire for revenge.

 

Revenge Porn and Underage Teens and Children

Today more than ever it is extremely important to discuss privacy and self-respect with your children and teens. If your teen is involved in sexting they may be making themselves vulnerable to becoming the victim of revenge porn.

 

What is sexting? 

About.com parenting expert Christy Matte explains that Sexting is sending sexually explicit messages via cell phone or instant messenger. While sexting between consensual adults is legal, many states have enacted legislation to prevent sexting between teens.

According to NCSL, In 2012, at least 13 states introduced bills or resolutions aimed at sexting amongst teens. Four states; Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania and South Dakota; have enacted legislation in 2012.

According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s Sex a survey of teens and young adults showed that 21% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys admitted to sending nude photos to other teens.

Distributing child pornography is prosecutable by law, no matter how old the person sharing the images and videos is. Sharing a sexually explicit photograph of a minor with another person, whether it is a photograph of the sender or a third party, is considered distribution of child pornography. Pam Greenberg, NCLS writer, says:

“Kids are not always aware that, by sexting, they may be violating child pornography laws, which often carry felony penalties and can require registration as a sex offender. All 50 states have laws prohibiting the production, possession or distribution of images depicting sexually explicit activities involving a child.”

 

Examples of sexting include:

  • A Teen girl taking photos of themselves and sending it to her boyfriend.
  • The Boyfriend forwarding those photos on to their friends.
  • Another person finding the photo on the boy’s cell phone and forwarding it.

 

Reckless sexting between teens can have devastating and humiliating consequences including loss of self-esteem, bullying and depression. The one who distributes the photo can face school expulsion and even prosecution under the law.

Websites hosting underage photos are illegal. People who view, share or post underage photos on these websites are also committing a crime and are subject to prosecution.

 

Is Adult Revenge Porn Legal?

Many states currently do not have laws protecting adult victims of revenge porn. However, thirteen states tried to pass legislation in the past year to combat this violation of privacy.

Some, like Arizona, California and Colorado, have signed bills into law prohibiting different aspects of revenge porn including the unlawful distribution of private photos and videos. They have also provided for lawsuits to be taken against facilitators of revenge porn. Other states such as Connecticut, Florida and Hawaii have failed to pass laws protecting victims from having their private images and videos shared on the web.

 

Does Your State Have a Law against Revenge Porn?

To find out if your state has enacted any laws against revenge porn, or is in the process of legislating on the matter, contact your local state representatives. In many instances the laws have failed to reach a vote and therefore have not been passed into law. The general public need to put more pressure onto state legislators to push through laws that deal with this sort of sexual harassment.

The website End Revenge Porn hosts an interactive map to locate legislatures and bill sponsors in your area. If you are a victim of revenge porn, someone you love is a victim, or you just want to get involved, then start with the How To page. There you can learn how you can support the passing revenge porn laws in your state.

 

How Will You Know If You or Your Teen Is a Victim of Revenge Porn?

  • Sometimes people will receive emails and messages from others who have seen their photo and personal information on a revenge porn website. This will alert the victim that their private photos or videos are on the web, either stolen from their computer or submitted by a scorned lover.
  • A simple Google search for your name will pull up any photos or videos that were posted for others’ entertainment. This only works if your personal information was included on the website that the image was posted on.
  • Teens might not share information with you if they become the victim of revenge porn. However, many parents feel justified in checking cell phones and email accounts for negative behaviour.

 

Where Can You Turn if You Are a Victim of Revenge Porn?

Dr. Holly Jacobs, a victim of revenge porn, started the End Revenge Porn initiative to help criminalize revenge porn in the U.S.:

“End Revenge Porn is working to educate the masses about what revenge porn is, why it is happening, how perpetrators are able to get away with it, and why the blame should not be directed at the victims.”

This website has a wealth of information, resources and support for victims of revenge porn including how to get your photo removed from a revenge porn website.

 

Other websites:

Women against Revenge Porn (WARP) was created by Bekah Wells after she found photos of herself on a revenge porn website when running a Google search of her name. Her website aims to help those who are blamed for being victims, exploited by Internet reputation companies who guarantee their photo removal and dismissed by law enforcement, who turn them away.”

Without My Consent was created by lawyers in California to promote ending revenge porn and helping victims of revenge porn.

These websites provides a community for helping victims get through and overcome revenge porn. They include information on finding therapists and lawyers who specialise in this field.

 

How to Get Your Info Removed from Revenge Porn Sites?

If you are a victim of revenge porn it can be very difficult to get your photo removed from the website. Many of them will try charging you hundreds of dollars, and still may not remove your photo. That is not the worst of it; if you google your name then there pops up the nude photo of you, along with all your information. The website End Revenge Porn provides some basic information for getting your photo removed. They have instructions on how to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to have photos taken by you removed from websites. They also have a list of legal representatives across the country do pro bono work to assist victims of revenge porn.

WARP has a page detailing how to submit a DMCA take down notice. Bekah Wells includes a sample of a notice and instructions on how to submit it directly to the website hosting your photo or video.

Because websites can refuse to take down your photos, you can submit the DMCA to search engines to disable the links to your photos. You should also file a report with your local law enforcement agency. There are many cases where revenge porn is a crime including:

 

How Can Revenge Porn Hurt You?

  • When applying and interviewing for a new job, your potential employer is likely to google you. Finding revenge porn could affect their judgment of you.
  • Humiliation and defamation of character.
  • Job loss for your current job.
  • Family, friends and children viewing private images or videos.
  • Loss of friends or other relationships because of leaked photos and videos.
  • Children being teased and bullied in school because their friends viewed a parent’s private images or videos.
  • Expulsion from school or criminal charges for cases involving underage children.
  • Your photos and videos living on the web forever.
  • Harassment and stalking from others who saw your photo.

 

Update:

In recent news it was announced that a Nottingham man was sentenced to a twelve week stint in prison for sharing explicit photos of his former girlfriend via WhatsApp. The 21-year-old man was charged with harassment and pleaded guilty. The woman in question reported to the police that her ex was sharing a personal photo. She asked the police to warn him against sharing the photo. Despite the clear warning he went on to make her picture his own profile photo on WhatsApp.

Revenge porn, or non-consensual pornography, has devastating effects on the victim. If you are victim of revenge porn it is important to understand that it is not your fault. While there is plenty of victim blaming both online and in print, there are places you can turn to for help. There are people who understand and are working hard to pass laws that will protect your rights.

 

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