It’s Not OK: Revenge Porn & Sextortion


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We’ve all been there. Taking a cheeky snap of your privates to send to your significant other, or if you’re into that kind of thing, a complete stranger. Most of the time this falls into the murky bucket of harmless fun on the presumption that trust and discretion are upheld.

But without trust, putting your nudie Judies into the digital ether is risky business. Our digital lives are hyper exposed. We’re a generation of over-sharers: Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat…the list goes on. Once you put something into the digital world it’s untraceable. You can delete it at the source but how many times has it been shared, reposted, or screenshotted? You can’t control this. There’s a YouTube video I once watched whilst on a three-hour video-athon of a woman trying to teach her teenage daughter this very concept. She emptied a tube of toothpaste and told her daughter to put the contents back into the tube. She obviously couldn’t. Once it’s out there, there’s no getting it back.Revenge porn is a growing form of sexual abuse in which private, sexual materials are distributed without the victim’s consent in a deliberate attempt to humiliate or shame them. Anyone can be affected by revenge porn, but most commonly reported crimes come from those in their teens to adults in their mid-twenties.

There was no way anyone was getting a sexy shot from adolescent me. Social media in 2001 was asking for someone’s MSN addy, and webcam technology was so dire that the most you could muster was a photo so pixelated that you wouldn’t have been able to tell whether it was my genitals or a very sad-looking carrot.

But the youth of today have much more sophisticated means of communication and documenting. I don’t even know what Kik is, but apparently all the kids are using it, and it’s drawn multiple controversies due to its reported involvement in a number of incidents of child exploitation. Children and young adults are much more tech savvy than I ever was at that age, and technology is fundamental to their culture. Where my technological prowess hit its peak at playing The Sims in an ill-fitting Mizuno tracksuit, this generation’s youth are well versed on Instagram filters, contouring and the perfect lighting, and the access they have to the digital world is near impossible to harness and limit. We had one desktop computer when I was growing up, and my parents could keep an eye on my musings. Even if my parents were out of the room and I felt like getting fruity online, the dial-up connection was so slow that by the time the landline had connected they were back in the room and my window of opportunity had passed.Kids these days have laptops and smart phones constantly glued to their hands. There’s that perpetual cycle of connections and access. Technology has made it so easy for them to be vulnerable to phishing and attacks.With revenge porn being recognised as a punishable offence by UK law, it seems we’re waking up to the fact that this is a real issue. For some people school is hard enough, without the added stress of sexual experimentation being publicised throughout the corridor. But schools are only now playing catch-up – the sexual health curriculum in the UK has long been outdated. Presently, only students attending local-authority-run secondary schools – which make up about a third of schools overall – are guaranteed sex education.Opportunists have jumped on the naivety of young adults by creating organised, sophisticated criminal networks that target individuals through websites, dating sites or webcams. It’s a practice known as sextortion. They might assume the identity of an attractive man or woman, grooming the victim into send them the money shot and then threatening to circulate the footage to the victim’s friends, family or colleagues if a fee isn’t paid.

Victim Support IOM received 150 new sexual assault referrals relating to revenge porn and sextortion in the past two years alone.

Sextortion and revenge porn can have devastating consequences for their victims. Netflix documentary Audrie & Daisy follows two particular high-profile stories in America; Audrie Potts, a 15-year-old student who was the victim of revenge porn which led to her suicide; and Daisy Coleman who was raped by a fellow student, and the backlash she received when the video was circulated around her school. Victim Support provides services to people affected by any form of abuse, and offers expert safeguarding advice to those who are victims of revenge porn and sextortion.“Report it to the website where the images were posted and ask for them to be removed,” says Paula Gelling, manager of Victim Support IOM. “Consider reporting it to the police keeping any evidence and taking screenshots. Remind yourself that it isn’t your fault, and don’t panic.“If you’re a victim of sextortion stop all contact with the perpetrator, and don’t pay their demands.”You can limit your risk of falling victim to sexual abuse by turning your webcam off when it isn’t being used, and don’t share personal information or contact details online. Victim Support urges people to think carefully before sharing any sexual images with anyone, partner or not. There are many things we can’t control in life, but our consent and privacy shouldn’t be one of them. 


If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article then you can contact Victim Support on 679 950 or enquiries@victimsupport.im. Victim Support’s Welfare team are specifically trained to support those affected by sexual crimes. The crime does not have to have been recent and they support people where the crime has occurred in the past. var bannersnack_embed = {“hash”:”bu5sv3fmz”,”width”:672,”height”:280,”t”:1549381292,”userId”:38193901,”responsive”:true,”type”:”html5″};//cdn.bannersnack.com/iframe/embed.js

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