WHAT IS REVENGE PORN/NONCONSENSUAL PORNOGRAPHY?

Revenge porn (also referred to as nonconsensual pornography and image-based abuse) is a nuanced legal and interpersonal issue. In general, it is defined as the “posting of revealing or sexually explicit images or videos of a person, without the consent of the subject, in order to cause them distress or embarrassment” (O’Connor, Drouin, Davis, and Thompson 2018).

As of May 2020, 46 states in the U.S., in addition to Washington, D.C. and one territory, have criminalized revenge porn (Cyber Civil Rights Initiative 2020). However, the language and the implementation of these laws often varies dramatically (Yar and Drew 2019:582). 

In the United States alone, it is estimated that at least 10 million people have either been threatened with or are victims of revenge porn (O’Connor 2018). The negative effects of this are immense and can impact a victim’s emotional and psychological health and can cause long-term damage to their willingness to trust, and their perceptions of privacy (McGlynn, Rackley, Houghton 2017:30). Some victims have compared the experience to a sexual assault (McGlynn 2017: 30). Despite this, one study found that only about 50% of female and 33% of male American undergraduates surveyed “believed that it is always wrong to forward a private sexual image to someone else” (O’Connor 2018). This is especially concerning when considering that it is believed that most perpetrators are former sexual partners (O’Connor 2018) and the photos are often taken by the victims themselves (Bloom 2014) and shared through consensual ‘sexting.’

In addition to the damaging effects of personal photos and messages being shared without permission, revenge porn victims are at risk of having their experiences “trivialized” by peers, as well as by law enforcement (Bloom 2014). The difficulty of tracking down a perpetrator and the lack of continuity of revenge porn laws across the United States—and the world (Yar 2019:582-3)—makes it challenging for victims to get justice or reparations. Because of this, revenge porn is often at risk of “underenforcement” and a lack of urgency from state officials and police (Bloom 2014). 

REVENGE PORN FAST FACTS

93% of victims reported significant emotional distress due to being victimized


90% of victims were women

83% of victims reported having taken the picture/video of themselves and shared it with someone else

63% of victims said their material was posted by an ex-partner; 23% said their photo was posted by an ex-friend

52% feel as though they are living with something to hide

51% have had suicidal thoughts due to being a victim

42% said that being a victim jeopardized their relationships with family

37% said they have been teased by others due to being a victim

27% of victims were 18-22

Source: Cyber Civil Rights Initiative/End Revenge Porn Campaign

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

Advocacy and awareness-raising are excellent places to start!

Small ways to be an advocate starting today:

  • Read research articles and educational websites about revenge porn (this is a 2018 study from the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative to get you started)

  • Donate to organizations that offer support services for victims of sexual offenses, including revenge porn (the Revenge Porn Hotline in the UK is seeking donations!) 

  • Publicly (and privately) support survivors and make it clear that slut-shaming, victim-blaming, and non-consensual pornography are unacceptable (End Revenge Porn offers informative, accessible tweets that you can use to educate yourself and your followers)

  • Research if your state/country has a revenge porn policy in place. If it doesn't, contact a legislator and ask them to consider writing one.

Long-term ways to be an advocate:

  • Join or start an advocacy group in your school or community! 

  • Consider either joining an industry or utilizing an industry you're currently involved in (like tech, law, or any level of government) that can help victims or even work preventing future incidents of revenge porn

  • Become a trained victim advocate and work on a hotline to offer direct support to victims. Most colleges/universities, U.S. states, and major metro areas around the world have at least one organization dedicated to helping survivors of sexual offenses! 

  • Twitter
  • Instagram

©2020 Revenge of the Sluts official website