Revenge Porn: When Relationships Turn Sour

It is not often that people think about the fact that sexual exploitation isn’t always the intention. Sometimes you can be perfectly happy in a relationship, everything is great and there is nothing out of the ordinary which would make you suspect that something might go wrong later down the line. Of course, not all abusive relationships start out that way. Something might trigger a drastic change of behaviour and it can lead to a vicious cycle where the victim believes it’s a phase and it’s just because their normally loving partner is stressed, or angry, or sad (delete as applicable).

When there is a betrayal like this within a relationship, it can be incredibly hard to come to terms with, let alone to talk about. It will mean that you have to accept that the person you’re with is not the person you thought they were, and they have broken your trust. They might stop, but you can’t know that they will, and therefore you’re in a safer position if you seek help from someone you trust, and remove yourself from the situation.

Sexual exploitation isn’t just something which can happen while the relationship is ongoing though. In recent years there has been a trend of ‘revenge porn’, with certain websites dedicating their domains specifically to this purpose.

What is revenge porn?

It’s becoming easier and easier for us to share every aspect of your life with your friends and family, either by sending a quick text, a message on social media, or sending a picture. It’s not uncommon for people to send each other sexually explicit messages, and with the rise of smart phones, this might also include pictures or videos. There’s nothing to say you have to be in a relationship to send this kind of message, but when you are you are more likely to expect a level of trust especially whilst in a relation, believing they can trust the other person fully. And that might be the case – at the time.

According to an article on the Huffington Post, 40 percent of young people surveyed had created a sexual image or video of themselves; 25 percent had sent this to someone else. Most of these images were sent to a girlfriend or a boyfriend, but 15 percent were sent to a complete stranger. In short, this has become a really common practise among young people, and the risks might not be being fully considered.

When relationships end things have a habit of turning nasty, and something which seemed entirely harmless at the time could end up coming back to haunt you.

These pictures might end up online, and once there are soon out of the control of whoever originally posted the images. Call it whatever you like, but it is a form of sexual exploitation. It has more impact than you might expect, and the implications can affect you for years to come. To put it simply, this is not something you want to happen to you.

How you can protect yourself

This practise is often considered to be a civil dispute rather than a criminal offence, although there has been an active push on creating laws to protect victims. While the reaction of some is ‘you shouldn’t have taken the pictures’, most people will recognise that it isn’t the victim who is at fault, but the person they trusted with their image.

It could be that it’s not just the picture that’s shared; often the person’s name, and sometimes their contact details might be shared alongside.

Unfortunately the best defence against this kind of sexual exploitation is still to avoid sending the pictures altogether, and if you choose to, to make sure that your face isn’t in the images. In the meantime, join the fight to make revenge porn a crime, and crack down on this damaging practise.

It is worth remembering that you sending the images isn’t the only way someone could get hold of damaging imagery as well…