We always think that something like this will never happen to us… but it can. The subject has appeared in the news numerous times over the last few years but what is it and how could it affect you? Read the facts here.

What is it?

It has been defined by the government as ‘the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress. The images are sometimes accompanied by personal information about the subject, including their full name, address and links to their social media profiles.

The offence applies both online and offline and to images which are shared electronically or in a more traditional way so includes the uploading of images on the internet, sharing by text and email, or showing someone a physical or electronic image’. (Credit: Gov UK)

This means that even showing a naked picture of someone on your phone to somebody else is an offence if you do it to intentionally humiliate the person in the image!

revenge porn

 

How can you avoid it?

Try not to give in to the peer pressure. If a boy or girl says you are boring for not joining in and aren’t being ‘fun’ for exposing yourself and your body then surely, they don’t deserve your time or attention? The ultimate prize should be the whole of you – not just your body.

This doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to like sexual activities or enjoy other people’s bodies. We live in the 21st century where everyone is equal, don't we?

In some cases, the pressure can be even harder. Particularly if it is a long-distance relationship and you feel as though you need to spice it up in order to keep them interested. It can be incredibly hard. However, we should all consider whether it is worth it just for a little bit of fun? You just have to hope that the person loves you for you and will make an effort because you mean too much to them for them to let you go… Regardless of the lack of sexual contact.

There have been situations where the other half has been completely unaware that sexually graphic photos or videos have even been taken of them. In some cases, this has happened while they have been sleeping or while they have been severely intoxicated!!!! Can you imagine?!?! Knowing that someone had taken advantage of you in that way and you not consenting to it!!!!

The point: never believe that if this happens to you that it is your fault! It’s intimate moments that were meant to stay between you and the other person. You did not consent to this content being shared, you did not want this outcome. They did.

 

What is the punishment?

Up to two years in prison. Yep, you heard right. They are currently working on a way to turn this into a sentence of its own accord but at the moment there is a series of convictions available that can be used to make the perpetrator pay. These include:

  • The Communications Act 2003
  • The Malicious Communications Act 1998
  • The Protection From Harassment Act 1997

So, if this has happened to you, get some form of justice out of the horrific situation now.

 

Who is to blame?

Now, this is the real question. It’s a toughy. There are some serious debates but the main argument is that the introduction of social networking, the desensitisation of the porn industry and the ease of accessibility to find such content on the internet has meant that sex has become less of an intimate act.

It has created unrealistic expectations of the opposite sex which has made people feel compelled to compete with. It’s given watchers the opportunity to completely objectify the person on the screen and this sometimes transfers into their real lives and relationships as they believe this lack of respect is the ‘norm’.

The creation of apps such as Tinder, Grinder and Snapchat where photos can be shared privately for a small amount of time has created a huge boom in sexually explicit photographs. The 'snapshot' or print screen option for these apps means that people can then keep their own copy of the image! Therefore, some would argue that these apps have given too much power to the reciever and need to give more power to the sender.

It’s important to remember that the person who originally distributed the images of themselves is never at fault but I think that the pressure as a westerner nowadays has meant that a lot of people have at the very least considered doing it.  Purely because of what our society shows and tells us – that sex is the biggest appeal! Therefore, for people to comment and judge someone whose photos/videos that have been shared is not fair because it’s not what the sender intended. They didn’t expect them to go viral. Or, if they did, then they didn’t expect the reaction that they got.

The real blame – the person who exposes them. Of course. They want to hurt you, they want to get revenge by humiliating you. The argument is CONSENT, the injustice is the lack of it!

 

How to get the help that you need

If this is happening to you or has happened to you in the past make sure that you report it! Nobody deserves to be publicly humiliated in such a horrific way. You are a victim and it is not your fault. Ring these numbers to get more advice and support:

  • Revenge Porn helpline - 0345 6000 459
  • The Samaritans - 116 123

Recent cases

A lot of people who this has happened to have understandably shared their stories anonymously. They have been through enough already and are traumatised by the distress it brought them the first time around, so why would they wish to bring it all out again? 

Two girls who have worked with The Guardian have shared their stories! Watch Youtube stars Chrissy Chambers' story here and Emma Holten's story here.

 

Celebrities

Mischa Barton (2017), Vanessa Hudgens (2007), Jennifer Lawrence (2014), Kim Kardashian (2007).

These are just a few names of celebrities who have had to deal with the humiliation of sexually explicit images/videos which have threatened to or have been shared on the internet. All of these women have been incredibly strong!  

Jennifer Lawrence: The phone hacker who distributed the images got jailed for nine months. She said in Vanity Fair:

"It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It's disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change.... Just because I'm a public figure, just because I'm an actress, does not mean that I asked for this...The fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody's mind is to make a profit from it, it's so beyond me. I just can't imagine being that detached from humanity. I can't imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside... I started to write an apology, but I don't have anything to say I'm sorry for"

(Credit: Vanity Fair)

Mischa Barton: Her ex-boyfriend filmed her with hidden cameras and tried to sell the footage. She is currently in the process of taking legal action. She gave a statement saying:

“I just want to say that I have been put through an incredibly hard and trying time. This is a painful situation and my absolute worst fear was realised when I learned that someone I thought I loved and trusted was filming my most intimate and private moments without my consent, with hidden cameras...And then I learned something even worse – that someone is trying to sell these videos and make them public. I came forward to fight this, not only for myself but for all the women out there. I want to protect them from the pain and humiliation that I have had to go through. No woman should have to go through this.”

(Credit: The Guardian)

Culture today

Sex sells, but why?

I think it’s fair to say that as Randall Collins has observed “human beings, fundamentally, are distinctly, spectacularly social. Lonely and isolated, we cannot survive, let alone thrive. For us, power and meaning emerge through making connections...Sexual pleasure is fundamentally a social construct, an emergent property of social exchange.” (Credit: Psychology Today) This tells us that sex sells because it is the ultimate human connection and we all crave that sense of meaning.

Does that mean that it's okay to make money off sharing someones sexually explicit photos WITHOUT their permission? Absolutely not.

The Lesson

You are in college/university and you want this to be the best time of your life. Not the worst! So don’t give someone the opportunity to hang something over your head which would create a huge weight on your shoulders and completely ruin the experience of university for you. It’s difficult to know who to trust and know who not to trust.

To the person considering sharing photos: Be nice to each other. No matter how much the other person has hurt you, it doesn’t make it right to publically humiliate them, damage their name, sometimes their career prospects and their trust. You could end up in jail, is that what you really want?

To the victim: Seek help if you need it, you do not need to face it alone. You need to take action if this has happened to you! Get justice.

 

If you found this article interesting, read 'Our Easy and Effective Mental Health Tips For Students'.

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