Are You a Victim of Revenge Porn?

Given the ease and normalization of photo sharing, it is common for couples to share private, sexual images with each other. Though these images may be taken with the intention of remaining private, they do not always stay within the relationship.

If private images of you have been shared without your approval, you may be the victim of “non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images,” or the act of “revenge porn,” as it is called colloquially. 

If you believe you are a victim of revenge porn, there are many steps you can take––including both criminal and civil action against your perpetrator. The options for taking action are generally outlined below: 

1. “I just want my pictures off the internet!”

Most platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google have image removal request options. But, if there is any chance that you will want to take further action beyond just taking your pictures down, it is crucial that you document any evidence you can before removing your images. Gather evidence including screenshots of webpages, comments, usernames, dates, results from a Google search of your name, or any other potentially helpful documentation based on your particular case. Once you have recorded everything you can, follow platform-specific protocols to request your pictures be taken down. The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative has put together a detailed guide with image removal protocols by platform that you can follow for more specific directions. In addition, Google has recently expanded users’ ability to stop their personal contact information from showing up in Google search results––if personal identification information is linked to your pictures, this may be another option to look into.

2. “I want to take legal action now!”

Filing a police report is typically the first step. Many districts have an online option or a specific phone number to call to file a report––just search your town or city’s name and “file a police report” to get information about the process at your local precinct. In Daliah Saper’s 2019 interview with Fox 32, she advises revenge porn victims to file a report right away to ensure that “the evidence associated with these images is still preserved and accessible.” It is important to know that revenge porn is a Class 4 felony with penalties of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. 

3. “Is there any other action I can take (other than a police report?)”

In addition to filing a report with the State to attempt starting a criminal case, Saper law can help you pursue your offender civilly. Civil cases can include claims for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED), Invasion of Privacy, False Light, Defamation, and statutory causes of action including those arising under the Civil Remedies for Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images Act. Under this act, victims of revenge porn can recover damages resulting from the dissemination of non-consensual pornography or from the threat of dissemination. Therefore, if you are also seeking monetary compensation, Saper Law can assist you with filing a civil lawsuit. You do not have to choose one course of action over the other––a civil case and a criminal case can proceed at the same time.

We encourage reaching out to Saper Law to set up a confidential consultation, but here are a few initial considerations before taking civil action:

“Are my images considered non-consensual pornography (NCP)?”

NCP includes photos, film, videotape, and digital recordings. Your images are considered NCP if your intimate parts are fully or partially unclothed or transparently clothed and you are identifiable in the images. In addition, your images are considered NCP if you are engaging in sexual activity in the images or recording.

“What does ‘dissemination’ technically mean in the law?”

This means that someone has intentionally published or distributed the images of you (typically either sent to others or posted on the internet). Again, you have to be identifiable in the images or there has to be identifiable information about you in or attached to the images that are disseminated.

“What types of damages can I recover?”

As a victim, you can recover economic and noneconomic damages caused by the spread of your images, including recovering compensation for your emotional distress. The amount of damages may also depend on how many times the images were shared and how widely the images were spread.

“Are threats included?”

Yes, if someone has threatened to spread your NCP, this can cause you harm. In addition to actual dissemination, the statute allows you to pursue claims against individuals who threaten to disseminate your non-consensual pornography.

“Is there a time limit on my claims?”

Yes, two years. You have two years from the date you discover the unauthorized distribution of your photos, or the threat to distribute is made, to bring a lawsuit. Again, this time constraint is another reason why it is important to document your evidence and keep a solid timeline of events.

The above steps are for general cases, but you may need more specific guidance depending on the unique details of your case. To discuss your case with a Saper Law attorney, click here.

There are other resources available for victims of revenge porn, especially for receiving mental and emotional support. Two of these resources are the previously cited Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and March Against Revenge Porn

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