What Is Revenge Porn and How to Deal With It?

Revenge porn, or the act of someone sharing sexual content without the other person's consent, is a serious problem today. Learn how to identify uncomfortable situations, how to deal with them, and how to avoid putting yourself in a compromising situation that may come back to hurt you. Discover how to deal with revenge porn and prevent it from damaging your reputation, mental health, and life.

Key takeaways:
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    Revenge porn is a serious issue affecting young adults and teens today that can have far-reaching negative impacts on their life.
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    There are laws against revenge porn in most states in the US, and some states treat revenge porn as child pornography when the person is under 18.
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    Revenge porn is a form of sexual, emotional, and mental abuse. It's important to seek help if you are a victim of this harmful practice.

Our culture has changed significantly since the Internet was introduced. During a digital age where sending nudes and unsolicited sexts are commonplace, we have a new issue emerging called revenge porn. This happens when someone shares or posts sexually explicit content of another person without permission. This is illegal in most states but could have extreme consequences depending on the age of the person.

Have you been a victim of revenge porn?

Revenge porn can take many forms. It can happen when you text someone, and when they send you a sexually explicit image of themselves or someone else without your permission. It also happens when someone shares sexually explicit content of you without your consent or creates fake pornographic content using your face or likeness on someone else's body. This has become a more common occurrence in the digital age. Often, a person's ex posts or sends the content as revenge for a broken heart. However, innocent parties are sometimes victimized by someone who has hacked their phone or personal account(s) and shared intimate content.

Know the law and your rights

It's a good practice to review your state laws regarding revenge porn. Many states have laws surrounding posting or sending explicit content without another person's permission. Additionally, if the person is under 18, it could be considered child pornography and carry greater consequences in a court of law. Sending an unsolicited sext, sharing an explicit image or video without an individual's consent, or creating fake images using another person's likeness can land a person in legal trouble. At least 46 US states have laws against revenge porn. This issue should be reported to your local police if it involves domestic violence, the content of a person underage (child pornography), or cyberstalking.

Fighting to have the content removed

If you can prove that the content is your intellectual property, you can easily have it removed from the internet. There are a variety of ways that you can do this, from asking Google to take it down to hiring a company to remove the content. Choose the method that works best for you based on your unique situation before taking action. Of course, the more evidence you have to back up your claim, the faster and easier this will be.

Revenge porn can have far-reaching, negative impacts on a person's life, from tarnishing their reputation to getting them fired from their job — or worse. It can also be emotionally damaging, as it is a form of sexual, emotional, and mental abuse. Speak with an attorney to learn your rights and local laws to know what you can legally do about it. They can also advise you on the best course of action. As a recourse, you can file criminal charges against the person who posted the explicit content. Furthermore, you may also want to file a civil suit for defamation of character.

Speak with a counselor

In addition to speaking with an attorney, a counselor or therapist can help you navigate the situation in the healthiest way. These situations are likely to spark a significant amount of emotional pain. Whether someone sent you images you didn’t want to see or shared images of you that you didn’t want others to see, revenge porn can be emotionally damaging. A therapist can help you process everything you are going through as a result of being a victim of revenge porn and equip you with the best coping strategies to implement in the face of such situations.

Call a hotline

If you are a victim of revenge porn and would like to speak with someone about your experience immediately for advice, call the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative’s hotline at (844) 878-2274. Again, you are not alone, and there are empathetic, helpful people available to help you overcome the negative effects of revenge porn so you can regain your power.

Tips for avoiding being a victim of revenge porn

The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to be careful of how you interact on social media. For example, refrain from using apps like Snapchat because the images disappear. Unfortunately, this feature is attractive to perpetrators who are more likely to use such tools in the hopes that they won't be caught. It's also good practice not to send anything digitally that you wouldn't want to be leaked. If you have such content, do not store it in the cloud or on your devices, rather, use a separate, secure drive.

The best way to avoid having your content leaked or being victimized by a hacker is by not creating it in the first place. Granted, you cannot control some situations, such as someone using your face to create fake porn or someone sending you something without your consent. However, the more this issue is addressed, and the more action is taken against it, the less commonplace it will hopefully become.

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