It seems that at the moment you can’t move for the words ‘revenge porn.’ We’ve seen TV shows about it, articles in the papers, magazines and online as well as lots of social backlash from both sides of the issue. The term ‘revenge porn’ is used to indicate explicit content uploaded by a person’s once intimate partner with the intention of causing upset, hurt and humiliation. This type of porn isn’t intended for the pleasure of anyone, least of all, the subject.
People who decide to upload these images and videos are a special kind of someone, cowardly, immature and filled with a false sense of entitlement. Usually they have been hurt by their partner or feel that they’ve been wronged in some way. These feelings of anger and betrayal are often used as reasons to justify their actions, when it fact they are nothing more than petty excuses. Of course, it’s not only the people who upload the content that are to blame; it’s the consumers of it. Those who get a sexual kick from viewing content that they know is directly hurting another individual. I can’t dance around the subject, the victims are usually women and the perpetrators men. Psychologically it takes a certain personality type to be drawn to something like this. Someone who perhaps feels out of control in their own life, maybe dissatisfied in their job or they have a woman in their life that they feel dominated and controlled by. It all circles around this issue of control or lack thereof and a need to assert dominance over someone. Even if that control and dominance is only in their mind.
Revenge porn can affect anyone, and I mean anyone. The youngest recorded victim was just 12 years old. I can almost hear the outrage of some, people have blamed her parents, scolded her on social media for being a silly little girl and others have resorted to much crueller taunts. Not one bit of this is helpful, in fact it’s harmful. We all have done things when we were younger that would make our toes curl as an adult. The only difference is that now we live in an ever advancing technological state, most adults struggle to grasp just how advanced we are technologically so how do we expect a young person to understand. An image, once sent can be around forever. Releasing it to anyone, no matter how much you love or trust him or her means that you no longer have control over that content. This young girl and anyone else who finds themselves in a situation like this need supporting. not shaming.
Of course the safest route is to never send any material of this nature ever, but the reality is that people do. They have done for years and they will continue to do so. You can of course argue that we shouldn’t be so freely sending graphic content to others, people that we barely know but the fact is that the majority of people who commit this crime are ex partners. People you feel you know on many intimate levels and trust them wholly. The top and bottom of this situation is that if someone is capable of this sort of thing, you just won’t know unless it happens.
More often than not the reaction of a lot of people is to blame the victim, ‘If they didn’t want them seen they should never have taken them.’ This is laughable and doesn’t even come close to justifying this abhorrent crime. It’s the same defence rapists use to justify their attack, ‘they were dressed provocatively, what did they expect?’ We should be ashamed, as a nation that anyone views this topic in this manner, while one of us thinks it’s ok, we all do. When we all say no, this isn’t acceptable, will we be able to tackle this issue head on. It is only through public education and outreach from the victims that we can ever expect to end revenge porn. We need to put a stop to this dangerous and cruel culture of victim blaming and start putting the onus on those uploading the content.
So what can we do? Well, actually, lots. Firstly, you need to report it to the police. In February of this year it was announced that the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, which has a specific amendment dealing with such actions, had received ‘Royal Assent.’ This means that is now illegal to upload content of this nature without the subjects’ absolute consent. The Act is now law in England and Wales and offenders face up to two years in jail. Which is precisely what has happened to a young woman from Stevenage. Paige Mitchell just 24 had an argument with her then girlfriend and proceeded to upload private content for all the world to see, she got several weeks in jail and a fine. This is great news for those who have fallen victim to revenge porn and hopefully, if morality, decency and a basic level of respect aren’t a factor, will act as a deterrent for those tempted to upload images and videos which were only ever intended for private and personal use.