Help! I’m a victim of revenge porn

Found out someone you trusted has shared naked photos or videos of you online? You may be panicking and feel utterly betrayed, but there are some practical steps you can take to get them taken down. The Mix talks you through revenge porn.

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Here's what to do to get them down

I can’t believe this has happened to me!

First things first – don’t blame yourself. However these images got online, you’re not to blame. You’re a victim of bullying, and you’re also a victim of crime – revenge porn.

There are ways to tackle rogue photos and videos of yourself online, and ways to avoid getting into the situation in the first place. Here they are.

How do I get these naked photos removed?

You may feel ashamed, but it’s important to tell someone what’s happened. This is a deeply distressing thing to go through, and you shouldn’t go through it alone. Remember, none of this was your fault! You’ve done nothing to be ashamed of. Only the person who breached your privacy and trust should feel ashamed of their behaviour. If you can bear to, tell your parents or a trusted friend – whoever you feel most comfortable confiding in.

The law is on your side – so use it

So called ‘revenge porn’ is now illegal. Under this law, anyone who “distributes a private sexual image of someone without their consent, and with the intention of causing them distress” could end up with a two-year prison sentence.

If you were under 18 when the photos were taken…

Legally, the person who did this is breaking another law because you were underage when the photos were taken (the law considers it to be an ‘indecent photo of a child’). Even someone keeping them on their phone/computer counts as ‘possession,’ and texting it to a mate or posting it online counts as ‘distribution’. These are serious crimes with hefty jail sentences.

  • Report the image to the website in question and untag yourself if you’re able to.
  • Contact the person who first shared the image and ask them to take it down, as well as provide a list of all the people they’ve shared it with and sites they’ve uploaded it to.
  • Say you’ll contact the police if they don’t do this. You can get your parents to send a letter to their parents if that feels less scary.
  • Ring the Revenge Porn Helpline for free, confidential support on 0845 600 0459. They’ll be able to help minimise the reach of your photos. You can also email them on help@revengepornhelpline.org.uk.
  • Make a report to the Internet Watch Foundation here and let the website know you’re doing this. They’re breaking the law by hosting these photos, so you can threaten them with legal action too.

And if you were over 18?

It’s tougher to get stuff like this taken down. However, it’s worth trying. “It’s hard to prove you were definitely over 18 when a photo or video was made. Therefore, it’s worth contacting the site directly and claiming the images are child pornography – even if they weren’t,” says Jennifer Perry, an e-crime expert. “Tell them you’re going to call the police unless they take them down.”

Appealing to the website owners’ softer side might be a better approach initially. “Often just pleading: ‘I was young and stupid, please take it down’ will get the images removed,” says Jennifer. “The more you talk to the website owner yourself, the better.”

You too can call the Revenge Porn Helpline for advice (see above).

I want whoever did this to me to get punished. How do I report revenge porn to the police?

With the new amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, it’s easier to prove to the police that what’s happened to you is illegal. However, the law is still new, so we can’t say for certain how effective it will be.

“The age of criminal responsibility is 10, so you or your parents have a right to press charges against the person who shared these photos. The police can be reluctant to do this, but it’s your right as a victim,” says Jennifer.

Pressing charges doesn’t mean any legal action will be taken, but it will go on their police record. Our article about Victim Support talks you through the process of reporting a crime here.

What if the police don’t help?

“If the police refuse to take action you can ask for a case review,” says Jennifer. “Then a more senior officer has to review it.” If you’re still not satisfied, you can complain to the Independent Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Is there a safe way to take naked photos?

Yes, it’s very easy to say ‘never, ever, make any naked photo of yourself ever’ – but that’s not particularly helpful. Sharing sexy snaps is part of how we have sex these days. And not forgetting, sometimes these are taken without your consent. However, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself.

  • Always take photos from the neck downwards. That way, no one can ever prove it was you. Crafty, eh?
  • If you’re in a relationship with someone whose asking you to send them sexy images, ask yourself ‘do I absolutely trust this person 100%?’ and ‘will I still trust them if we have a horrifically painful break-up?’ If in doubt, don’t send them anything. If they’re pressuring you to do this, even though they know it makes you uncomfortable, read our article here.
  • Remember, nothing is truly safe on the internet. Snapchats can be screengrabbed, iClouds can get hacked, phones can get stolen… The only real way to be completely safe is to not show your face and/or stay fully clothed in front of any camera lens your entire life. Sad, but true.
  • If you break up with a partner, make sure you have a ‘digital break-up’ too. “When you break up with someone you should organise a time to meet up, sit down, and delete all intimate texts, photos and videos from your phones or computer in front of each other,” says Jennifer.

How do these images get out in the first place?

What usually happens is that you sent pictures of yourself to someone because you thought you trusted them – but then they shared them round school/college/the internet. Or, more rarely, maybe an ex has shared a sexy photo or video of you to get revenge. Or you may have had your phone hacked, or stolen, and the thieves raided your pictures. Or maybe – and this is even rarer, but it does happen – you were filmed having sex without your knowledge and now you’re being blackmailed.

However the problem started, it’s important to take back control as quickly as possible by following the steps above. Most importantly, tell someone – no one should feel alone at a time like this.

Next Steps

  • The Revenge Porn Helpline can help you stop the reach of explicit photos. Ring them confidentially on 0845 6000 459
  • BullyingUK offers advice and support to victims of bullying. Call on 0808 800 2222.
  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By

Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo by Garrett Charles