Revenge Porn: Australians are fighting back against humiliation

Deni Kirkova

Revenge porn is a cruel and harmful crime that leaves victims feeling powerless, degraded and dehumanised.

But as the first man is charged under new anti-revenge porn laws, it’s clear that Australians can fight against such humiliating breaches of trust. Yet we still have some way to go to combat the extent of this despicable act.

Here’s what you need to know:

Revenge porn

revenge porn

Revenge porn – or image-based sexual abuse – refers to the sharing or uploading of sexually explicit material to humiliate and intimidate the victim. This is  usually someone who recently ended a relationship with the perpetrator. However, it can be committed by a fling, an enemy, or anyone at all.

The damaging material may include images or video of a victim either wholly or partly naked in a compromising situation; doing something sexual or digitally manipulated somehow. This may be shared on social media, text messages, email or on revenge porn websites, the dark web or elsewhere on the internet.

The perpetrator may intend the victim never finds it, or they may want the victim to see it in order to humiliate them, damage their reputation, threaten or control them.

It can happen to anyone

And no-one is immune; whether you’re male or female; a blue-collar worker, CEO or a celebrity.

Rob Kardashian posting Blac Chyna’s nudes on Instagram was not cool; especially as his sister Kim Kardashian was a victim of revenge porn herself.

Rihanna was another high-profile revenge porn victim. She had an intimate picture shared in 2009 straight after the infamous Chris Brown incident. the Bajan singer said: ‘It was the worst thing that could possibly ever happen,’ adding that it felt ‘like my whole privacy was taken’ and ‘humiliating.’

Victims of revenge porn may feel shamed, severely anxious, depressed, and fearful for their safety. Aside from psychological distress, consequences may include cyber-stalking, bad publicity, workplace discrimination and in extreme cases, physical attacks or a feeling of your life being ruined as a result.

This is unacceptable.

The first coward goes down

Michael Joseph Brindley from Perth is the first man to face a charge under new anti-revenge porn laws. The 24-year-old could face serious prison time for sharing images of his ex-girlfriend all over Instagram through fake profiles created under her name.

The accused is facing one charge of distributing intimate images of another person without consent under WA’s intimate image law. It’s the first case of its kind in a landmark move in the fight for justice.

Brindley is accused of posting at least 10 compromising photos across multiple accounts, unbeknownst to his former beloved. His lawyer told Fremantle Magistrates Court his client intended to submit a guilty plea.

WA’s Criminal Law Amendment (Intimate Images) Bill, which came into effect just one month ago, makes revenge porn punishable. Perpetrators may face either 18 months or 3 years in jail, and/or a fine of up to $18,000. There are also federal and state laws against revenge porn in Victoria and NSW.

So how can you make the law work for you?

Recent stats might shock you

revenge porn

One in 10 Australians have taken, shared or threatened to share nude or sexual images of another person without their consent. Men aged 20-39 most likely to admit to being perpetrators according to a large national survey by RMIT and Monash University.

Nearly 9% of people had taken intimate material of someone without their consent, while more than 6% had shared or distributed it. Revenge porn has affected a shocking one in five Australians according to a 2017 survey by the same research group.

Young people aged people aged 16-29 are more likely to be targeted, as well as marginalised and vulnerable groups.  Indigenous, disabled and LGBTI Australians are more likely to fall victim to revenge porn.

Victims are equally likely to be male or female, though women are more likely to be victimised by a partner and have a stranger take intimate images without consent.

Taking sexual or nude images without permission was the most common abuse (20%). This was followed by distributing images without consent (11%) and threatening to share images (9%). Participants included more than 4,200 people aged 16 to 49.

In light of the shocking findings, researchers recommend reforms including support services for victims like the Revenge Porn Helpline in the UK.

The psychological effects on the victim

When your ex-partner or even someone you had a fling with shares intimate photos and videos, it can feel like your world is falling apart. These were probably intended only for them or maybe you didn’t even know were being taken.

You may feel betrayed, violated, trapped, controlled and undignified. The experience can be emotionally scarring, impacting future relationships and abilities to trust or get close to someone again.

The RMIT study mentioned earlier found the psychological toll can be tough, too. Researchers report that victims can suffer long-term depression, anxiety and fear for one’s safety.

Revenge porn goes beyond bad break-ups as content can be used as a harassment, cyber-bullying, control and domestic abuse. Material can also be used for ‘sextortion’, which is a form of blackmail used to extort sexual favours from the victim.

The insidious, malicious crime is used to make victims feel threatened, intimidated or embarrassed; and if you feel embarrassed, you may feel humiliated, shameful, and like you are to blame.

You are not to blame.

Cruelty will no longer be tolerated

Revenge porn happens more than you might think. Since the mid 2010s it’s been an increasingly possible consequence of bad breakups.

But those who feel they can violate another individual’s privacy and dignity will no longer get away with sharing intimate pictures and ruining a person’s life.

Victims of revenge porn abuse should have the ability to compel the perpetrator to stop their vicious and cowardly actions. They should be able to stop the material being shared and get it deleted off any existing platforms.

We are getting somewhere as tough new laws work alongside the eSafety Office’s online complaints system. The commissioner has power to combat image-based abuse content found on various websites and social media sites.

If you find this too stressful, overwhelming and upsetting, don’t worry. We can take the matter into our hands.

We’ll fight this with you

revenge porn

In fact, we’ll fight it for you. If you feel frozen or unable to take action, we can help.

Removify supports victims of revenge porn and helps protect Australians against harmful online content by getting damaging content taken down. We’re quick and efficient, we treat cases with sensitivity and respect – and we’re always on your side.

The RMIT survey confirmed a victim’s intimate and personal images and videos may be shared and distributed across multiple devices and platforms. These include text messages, Snapchat, Facebook and revenge porn sites.

With increasingly accessible highly-intelligent camera-equipped phones, revenge porn has, unfortunately, never been so easy to commit.

The internet is another minefield, especially with the dark web. Some victims may never discover their pictures have been taken and posted online.

However there are thousands of revenge porn pictures of identified UK women are being freely shared online on a cloud storage website called Mega, it was revealed yesterday.

We’re here to help protect your reputation and alleviate concerns that your friends, family, partner or employer may see the compromising material.

If you are experiencing mental health difficulties or are having suicidal thoughts, call Lifeline now on 13 11 14.

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