Revenge Porn: My Photos Are Out There, But Is Justice?

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With “selfie” earning a spot in the dictionary, the normativity of self-photography is at an all-time high. While “sexting” may be a sensitive subsect of the selfie, the act of sharing explicit photos with intimate partners is an inevitable facet of our cyber-rooted culture. Sexting can bridge gaps stemming from long distance relationships or busy schedules, but problems may emerge when these images get into the wrong hands. Take, for instance, the 2014 iCloud hackings of predominantly-female celebrities. Their private photos were spread for no other reason than to cause shame and embarrassment.

That being said, you don’t have to be a celebrity to be embarrassed if an evening of sexting is violated by prying eyes. With “revenge porn” specifically, the motive may be more personal than a distant troll. In the event of a breakup or fight, your intimate partner may turn on you, spreading your photos on public platforms out of spite. While some are quick to blame the victim for taking intimate photos in the first place, the reality is that in the eyes of the law, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is be upheld.

Believe it or not, you can even choose to press criminal charges against a malicious ex-partner. A federal case generally cannot be brought forth unless the individual in the photographs is under the age of 18, but many states have enacted laws enforcing penalties for sharing personal photos without consent. Louisiana statute 14:283.2 dictates a maximum penalty of two years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for such an offense. However, if you live in a state that has yet to make these 21st century considerations, or if do not wish to engage in criminal proceedings, you also have the option to take civil action. Lawsuits are often the best option when you can document that the negligence or malice of an individual not only caused pain and suffering, but a tangible financial loss.

As a plaintiff in a civil proceeding, the key word in ensuring the success of your case is document. As hard as it may be to confront the public consumption of your private images, taking screenshots of any websites or social media profiles housing your likeness is imperative. If you know that your images are being spread through text message, try your best to obtain screenshots from someone who is in receipt of your images (if you believe you can do so without provoking abuse). Further, if the individual responsible for the dissemination of your images is subjecting you to any other harassment—stalking, intimidation, and so on—document these instances as well. If at any time you fear for your immediate safety, contact authorities (and keep contacting them even if they initially try to brush off your complaints).

Finally, there are ways that being the victim of revenge porn may wreak more tangential havoc on your life. These factors can be related to the personal defamation you have faced, such as the suspension of employment due to the controversy or the destruction of your personal privacy fronted by cruel onlookers. Documenting the financial costs of these losses can help prove that the malice of the defendant posed real, quantifiable setbacks. Of course, the emotional distress you have been feeling is just as valid. Visiting a licensed therapist or psychologist can be a great strategy for coping with the violation of your trust. Session records can also add weight to your case.

The uncertainty of pressing charges and/or filing a lawsuit in a relatively new arena can be stressful. The process can be lengthy and the outcomes, uncertain. The age of smartphones is leading new legal precedents to be set every day. The flipside to legal trailblazing is that the courage to seek the justice that you deserve may yield results that set the bar for the next person, who, through happenstance, finds themselves in your shoes.

Get in touch with us today to get started with your FREE case review. We’re only a call, click, or short drive away.