Social media has practically turned the world into a global village, with quicker, easier and more convenient ways of keeping in touch with loved ones across the globe.
This efficiency has promoted so many transformative causes in the world but has also promoted social ills. Revenge pornography is the circulation of the sexually explicit content of an individual or a group with the intention of malice, without the people involved’s consent.
The act f revenge pornography is termed vengeful, because the pictures and videos are used for blackmail, with the intent to control or manipulate the victim.
The question that arises often is Why did you take and share the pictures in the first place? This question drives most victims to guilt, shame, confusion and emotional distress.
Victim blaming is basically shaming and faulting a victim for the crime committed against them. Most victims of revenge pornography are likely to have shared these pictures and videos willingly with their partners in private.
In some instances, the victim’s pictures and videos were taken without their knowledge, an intrusion on their privacy when they were in their most vulnerable situations.
Sadly, some victims are coerced by their abusive partners to record these videos in order to retain control over them and continue abusing them emotionally.
Problems encountered by revenge porn victims
- Isolation from societal activities
Most victims tend to cave in and avoid making physical contact with friends or family because they are ashamed, confused and embarrassed.
They stay away from social activities because they feel like they will be judged and avoided by their families, colleagues and friends at social events.
This could easily make them fall into depression because they miss out on activities they enjoy doing and spending quality time with loved ones.
If pictures and videos have already been circulated on social media, victims are likely to feel guilty for this, even if it’s not their fault that their offenders decided to distribute their pictures.
Some victims are often suicidal and are hesitant to seek help from professionals that could help improve their mental health. They are likely to start battling with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
They have paranoia over what is to come or might happen.
This malicious distribution of videos and pictures could reveal important details like; official names, social media handles, phone numbers and places of work.
Revealing these details could defame and jeopardize the careers of the victims and ruin the healthy, non-judgemental relationships they once enjoyed at their places of work. They could be easily exempted from job promotions and other life-changing opportunities.
They are likely to lose the respect and admiration they enjoy from family, friends and colleagues.
Stalking – most victims are stalked, often by people that share the same ill intentions as their abusers.
They are likely to be called mean names, shamed in public spaces and segregated in spaces that they once belonged in.
- Fear of seeking out new opportunities
Most victims shy away from seeking new employment opportunities, participating in activities they love or public forums because they fear their videos or photos might have been seen by these people.
This fear stops them from achieving their maximum potential in diverse areas.
- Exercise your power and right to say No, if you are being coerced to record or share sexually explicit content.
- If you have shared the pictures, add a filter to distort the colour hence identifying it could be a little hard.
- Try not to show your distinctive pictures like tattoos, piercings, birthmarks or most importantly, your face.
- Take the pictures on a plain background that can’t be easily traced back to you.
- Use dark lighting, blur the image if you can or parts of the picture that can be blurred to lose identity.
If the pictures/videos are already in circulation
- Document everything that has been posted online if you intend to take legal action.
Take screenshots of the posts, if they are on a website, convert them into PDFs and keep them for evidence.
- Report the images or videos. Different social media platforms have guidelines on how to stay safe online and report sexually offensive content.
- Google has devised a mechanism to ensure that victims of revenge pornography can ask for their pictures and videos to be pulled down.
- Seek the help of a professional therapist if you have suicidal thoughts or feel like you are sinking into depression.
- File a police report.
The law on revenge pornography
Different governments all over the world are quite silent and shallow on the legislation of this form of sexual and digital abuse.
Most victims actually end up depressed while trying to seek justice because of the numerous hurdles thrown at them during the process.
Slight punishments have been given for such offences, but things might change because a lot of attention is being drawn to this crime.
In Kenya for example, Offenders pay USD 2000 or imprisonment of fewer than two years or both.
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