What is Revenge Porn? 5 Things You Should Know from the Experts

19 Jun 2017

What is Revenge porn? Sounds scary doesn’t it? Here, Carmel Glassbrook from the Revenge Porn Helpline breaks down the top 5 things you need to know about revenge porn from her experience working with the organisation:

1. It’s not always about “revenge” and it’s not really porn.

So, the story goes; “boy meets girl. Girl sends boy nudes. Girl and boy break up, then, in fit of rage and jealousy, boy shares nudes all over the internet.” 😱

…Well, not always. Catfishing and sextortion are also a reality. This refers to the horrible situation some people find themselves in when they think they’re having sexual exchanges over webcam with an unbelievably sexy person. Only to later get blackmailed with the video of them masturbating for £££!

At the Revenge Porn helpline, we’ve even had cases where nudes were shared in adoration. The perpetrators are often completely flabbergasted that anyone would consider what they are doing was wrong: “But I think she’s really hot and I just wanted more pics of her!” 🙄

The word “porn” is also a misnomer. Porn is something sexy and enjoyable. FYI, having your intimate images spitefully shared is not sexy. Nor is sharing someone else’s nudes… for any reason!

2. The difference between “sexting” and “revenge porn”?

Revenge porn is the non- consensual sharing of intimate images of anyone OVER the age of 18.
Sexting usually refers to intimate image sharing of anyone UNDER the age of 18.

If you are under 18 & share nudes of anyone over 18, you could be criminalised under the revenge porn law. But (stay with me, it’s about to get even more confusing) due to a law that created in 1978, a naked image of anyone under the age of 18 is an indecent image of a child, which could carry quite a substantial punishment for possession or production.

SO, you can have sex at age 16 but if you take a nude you are committing a very serious crime. Clear as mud, right?!

The Revenge Porn Helpline supports people over the age of 18 only. Not least because we have to search for, view and report images and we couldn’t do that if the image is of someone under 18, because that would be illegal. Thankfully, the IWF (partner in UK SIC) are very successful in removing indecent images of under 18s from the internet.

3. What does the revenge porn law cover?

When it was passed in April 2015, the law made the non-consensual sharing of intimate images a crime, carrying a potential custodial sentence of up to 2 years. The prosecution has to prove an “intent to cause distress”- as if having your nudes all over Facebook isn’t proof enough.

Recently the law has been updated to include “threatening” to share people’s nudes. A massive win for us on the Helpline! Too often, callers have been turned away from the police because the person hasn’t shared anything, yet! Threats and blackmail were already covered by the ‘Malicious Communications Act’, however this generally had a poor response. To make it easier and clearer for police to prosecute – this has now been included. But there is always room for improvement.

Unfortunately the laws are most effective if the victim and perp are in the same country. In theory, someone in America committing RP against someone British should be simple. Most US states have a similar law so why wouldn’t they be arrested there!? However, there are a lot of factors that get in the way – lack of police resources being one. Despite this, it is possible to prosecute a perpetrator of RP across the pond. Unfortunately, if the perp was elsewhere, in the Philippines for example, it’s a completely different story.

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4. Where is revenge porn?

You’d think that seeing as it’s illegal to upload this content, it shouldn’t be anywhere online. WRONG! The images themselves are not illegal and sites are not breaking the law by hosting them. There are still dedicated RP websites moving their hosting sites so often, that they’re impossible to catch.

The dark web hosts some disturbing content, where RP might feel like the least of our worries. RP is shared on social media daily but there have been some incredible moves to tackle this. Facebook and Instagram have recently implemented a hashing technology. Meaning if an image is removed for being RP, they will code this image so it can’t be shared on their platforms again! Fear not, there have been a few notable prosecutions globally for running abhorrent RP sites – so it has been done before!

5. What should I do?

The best thing anyone can do is not add to this culture of humiliation. If someone has trusted you with their nudes, don’t share them. If you split up with someone, delete their pics. It’s really simple when you put it like that.

If your images have been shared- don’t panic! Get some support from a loved one and report it to the police. No social media accept RP on their platforms, so take control and report the content.

Most importantly, call the Helpline. We will provide a helping hand to support you through this, giving you emotional & practical advice. Lastly, don’t be a bystander- if you see or know someone is being abused in this way-  help them by always reporting it!

Got a question about Revenge Porn? Join the community and ask one of our digital mentors!

Keep up to date with the work that the team do at RP Helpline on Twitter 

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