Dealing with revenge porn

Revenge porn is when a former partner posts sexually explicit videos or pictures of you online without your permission. These private videos or images are shared maliciously to cause distress.

Typically the images are taken with permission during the relationship, but are posted or shared after a break-up. These images could also have been taken without permission.

The images may have been shared amongst a small group (for example on WhatsApp) or shared publicly on porn sites and social media platforms.

Revenge porn is a crime. It is illegal to share these videos or images either online or offline and it carries a two year maximum sentence.

If someone is threatening to share this content, but hasn’t yet, see your Content for Ransom Guide. If this content has been recorded by a stranger online and is asking you to pay for it not to be shared see our Webcam Blackmail Guide.

Approaches to dealing with revenge porn

If you are experiencing someone sharing this type of content then you are likely to feel distressed, angry, embarrassed and a full range of other emotions. Remember that what has happened is a crime and it is not your fault.

  1. Keep a copy of the evidence - Your first reaction is likely to be to have the content removed, as soon as possible. However, it is important to document what was shared, where it was shared, when it was shared and who shared it (from what accounts or username). Take screenshots and pictures and keep them somewhere safe. This evidence will allow you to progress a criminal case if you choose to do so.

  2. Report it to the police - As mentioned above, this is a crime. Report it to the police (detail below) and give them the chance to investigate before the content is removed and any potential evidence destroyed.

  3. Don’t engage with the suspect - If you know who is likely to have shared the content it is best not to engage with them directly and try to get them to remove the content. This can escalate the issue. It is also important not to be held hostage by the information being online and being asked to pay or do something else in return for them content being removed.

  4. Contact the website used to share the content - Both social media sites and most adult sites have the capability for you to report content that should be taken down. Content the site, once you have gathered the evidence, and ask them to remove it because they do not have your consent. If you took the video or image then you are also the copyright owner and have the right to say where it can be shared.

  5. Remove content from search engines - for a number of years now EU residents have the right to request that links to pages containing data that is out of date, irrelevant, excessive or inaccurate must be removed from Google search results. It doesn't require those pages to be taken down, only that they not be shown in Google's search results. So even if you can’t get the information taken down, you can reduce the chance of people finding it. You can find the Google form here, Yahoo here and the Bing form here.

  6. Try not to monitor the content online and resulting comments - While the information is online try not to monitor the comments and feedback. This will cause more distress.

  7. The content is now public - As hard as it is to deal with the content the perpetrator has shared is now public. Get the help and support you need to come to terms with this information being in the public domain.

  8. Review your online security and privacy settings - this is a good time to increase the privacy of your social media profiles. Go to privacy settings and set your privacy as high as you can. Also review your connections and remove those you don’t recognise or trust.

Report revenge porn to the police

Revenge porn is a crime. The police can investigate and in some cases can have more success gaining evidence and content removal from websites. Go to local police station or call the non-emergency number 101 to report your case.

If you are under 18 you should report the issue to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP). They specialise in supporting children and young adults with these types of issues. The Internet Watch Foundation can also help get indecent images of children removed and you can report it here.

Tap into expert revenge porn support - Revenge Porn Helpline

The Revenge Porn Helpline is a specialist helpline that can provide support for victims. They help those 18 years old and older in the UK. They also have a good range of advice on their website.

You can also find a list of other organisations who may be able to help with the emotional impact here.

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