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Revenge porn: What to do if it happens to you

Revenge porn is when someone shares a sexual image or video of someone without their consent


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Revenge porn can be a very upsetting experience, and you may be experiencing feeling of embarrassment, guilt, or shame. Remember that you are not alone and there are things you can do if you are the victim of revenge porn.

Sharing a sexual image or video of somebody without their consent is illegal and it is never okay. If you are sent an image like this, do not pass it on to anyone else. Report the content if it has been shared on a social media platform, and tell the person who sent it to you that they should not be sending the image to anyone.

In this section

What is revenge porn?

Revenge porn, also known as non-consensual pornography or 'sextortion', is when someone distributes sexual images or videos of another person, without the permission or consent of that person. It might be done by a partner or ex-partner, a friend, colleague, or hacker. More often than not, this distribution happens online, but doesn’t necessarily have to.

How does revenge porn it happen?

Some couples like to share sexual images of themselves with each other. This can be a normal activity within a healthy, consensual relationship. However, it is not normal, healthy or acceptable in any way, to share these images with others without your partner’s consent. It is cruel, hurtful, and can be hugely damaging for the victim. Furthermore, it says much more negative things about the person who shared the photos, than of the person who is in them.

How to avoid revenge porn

  • Firstly and most importantly, do not under any circumstances distribute sexual images of anyone without their consent. No matter how much you feel they hurt you or treated you badly, you have no right to share images or videos of them that were privately shared in a trusting, safe environment. Regardless of how badly the relationship ended, this is a deeply cruel violation of trust and is not an acceptable or normal response.
  • Until you are really 100% sure you can trust a partner, you should avoid sharing sexual images or videos of yourself with them. It can be hard to know when you can truly trust someone, so if in any doubt, just hold off.
  • If you feel your partner is pressuring you in any way to share sexual images or videos when you don’t feel comfortable, discuss it with them and let them know their behaviour is making you uncomfortable. If they don't address your concerns, it might be best to consider breaking up with them. That sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable.
  • If a partner or ex-partner ever breaks your trust and distributes sexual images of you without your permission, don’t feel guilty or ashamed. It may feel upsetting, hurtful or embarrassing, but the only person who has done anything to be ashamed of is the person who shared those images or videos without your consent. 
  • If someone has distributed sexual images of you without your permission, they may have broken the law. Get in touch with your local Garda Station.
  • A partner distributing sexual images of you without your permission can be a really upsetting experience. If it’s happened to you, and you’re struggling to cope with your feelings about it, make sure you talk to friends or family about how you're feeling. You may need counselling or other professional help to help you cope. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help - it’s totally normal to require professional help to help you through a traumatic experience. 

There are naked photos/videos of me online. What do I do?

  • Untag yourself if tagged 
  • Contact the person who has posted it and request they take it down.
  • Report it to the website in question and request they remove it. Sometimes this may take a bit of time, see our fact sheets on how to report content for social media platforms here
  • Talk to a family member straight away and get them to help you; it may be embarrassing at first, but it’s better they’re aware and able to help you - any immediate embarrassment or hurt will but greatly increased if the video/photo goes viral. 
  • You may want to deactivate your social media accounts. If you don't it is a good idea to take a step back from your accounts. 
  • Contact a legal professional to engage their assistance in removing it and demanding the person who shared it to surrender all copies they possess. Under Data Protection and copyright law, you have the legal right to have these images taken off the internet.
  • Create social media profiles for your name. This will push the bad search results off the first pages of Google. There are professional privacy companies who can help you to do this.
  • Be prepared for the stress, trauma & anxiety it will cause, but also know; things will get better. Make sure to speak to someone you trust and get support. It’s important to have someone who can help you through a challenging time - so make sure you don’t try to deal with it alone.

Revenge porn and the law

  • If you are under 18 and a sexual image or video of you is circulated, this is child pornography. Anyone who has distributed this will be liable to be prosecuted as distributors of child pornography.

If you need to talk to someone right now you can call Childline (under 18s) for free on 1800 66 66 66  or contact Samaritans for free on 116 123, text 087 2 60 90 90 (standard rates), or email jo@samaritans.ie 

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Published October 14th, 2014
Last updated April 17th, 2018
Tags sexual abuse revenge porn break up
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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