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Defining Revenge: Revenge Porn Name Masks The Horrifying Truth All Women Should Know

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“Did you hear that Sophie was ‘revenge wrestled‘ last night by some guy she didn’t even know – her face is a mess”

“You know that girl on the 3rd floor, well last night her ex-boyfriend just showed up at her apartment and had ‘revenge sex‘ with her.”

“You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone ends up ‘revenge dead‘ after all this”

Can you imagine if we started describing rape as ‘revenge sex’ or assault as a ‘revenge wrestle’? It would completely minimize the crime, justify the actions of the perpetrator and shift the blame onto the victim.

Horrifyingly, this is exactly what is happening in the case of ‘revenge porn’; the public online posting of nude or sexually explicit pictures of a person, often with attached identifying information or derogatory comments (definition from Harvard Civil Liberties Law Review).

General porn is becoming more and more socially acceptable. The seedy adult video stores have given way to online empires drawing a revenue that exceeds the GDP of many small nations. Society really doesn’t have that much of a problem with making and distributing it. However, revenge porn is a far from ‘porn’ as rape is from sex. While a ‘revenge porn’ photo might look the same as a pornographic image the intention and effect is very different.

Victims of revenge porn didn’t consent. They aren’t getting paid for their photo like a porn star might. They aren’t deriving any benefit. In fact, the complete opposite is happening. Victims have lost their jobs, their friends, been mercilessly bullied and some have even taken their own lives.

The word ‘revenge’ is also incredibly misleading. Some pictures are posted by ex-lovers as ‘revenge’ for breaking up however more and more ‘revenge porn’ is created through far more sinister methods. Hackers have broken into private emails accounts. They have hacked into a girls webcams without their knowledge. Terrifyingly, there are examples of men extorting a ‘performance’ out of women and girls by threatening to ruin their lives.

The fact is that this is not a joke by a bunch of high school jocks. This has become a sophisticated international criminal enterprise to which anyone could fall victim.

Revenge? What did we possibly do to the criminals running these sites? What did we possibly do to deserve this? The answer is clearly nothing. This is not revenge. This is… This is… Well, what is this?

The bigger problem is that, in order to stop this from happening we need to have effective, fast legal recourse. Less than half of US States have legislation on the books criminalizing this issue. Only 3 states have legislation allowing a victim to sue the perpetrator for monetary damages. Everywhere else they are just swimming around in the soup of copyright law, harassment, distribution of child pornography or other far less than perfect options.

This is not porn and this is not revenge – this is simply wrong and it must stop.

You can find out more about this issue and help in the fight at EndRevengePorn.org.

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