The breaking of your trust and having intimate videos or images of you shared online can be a terrifying and traumatic experience. Perhaps, this was someone you once trusted or an angry partner who sought vengeance by leaking revenge porn. Regardless, in this scenario, no one has the right to share these private parts of yourself online. In fact, it’s completely illegal, and we can assure you that you will get through this.
But first, keep in mind that the leakage of these images or videos is not your fault. Whether you sent them to this person or had them taken without consent, your intentions were never to have them shared. You had faith that the perpetrator would value and honour your trust, and that is never something you should blame yourself for. Being in this situation, you may feel overwhelmed and highly stressed about what to do next. Take a few deep breaths, and hug yourself (yes, this has calming effects!) Know that you will get through this, and we are here to help guide you through this every step of the way.
Below are a few steps you can take when someone shares intimate videos and images of you:
Getting the Photo Removed
Depending on where the image or video is posted, it would be advised to report the content and contact the site’s webmaster to have it taken down immediately. They have full power to have the whole page removed, as technically, the site’s ownership is under their name. You can also ask Google to remove the sensitive content, as they have policies against posting ‘revenge porn’ and other private pieces of information. There is also a way to have any footprints of these images or videos removed from all search engines. For a more in-depth guide on how to do this, we’ve provided the instructions listed on Google below.
Contact the Police
Leaking pornographic images is a serious crime, and if you were 18 or under when the image was taken, it is considered child abuse. However, certain laws make it so those under 18 can be seen as guilty even if the image is of themselves, and was taken consensually. This, of course, makes it a rather slippery slope, leaving many young people to be unsure how to seek justice, as they don’t want to be victim-blamed. It would be advised to examine the laws around your province concerning this area and decide from there if you feel comfortable involving the police. Thankfully, you can still have your images removed and if you want to get the police involved but are underage, perhaps consulting with a lawyer would be a good first step. Collect all pieces of evidence, including text messages showing threats of leaking the intimate material and possible signs of domestic or emotional abuse (i.e.messages expressing verbal abuse, coercing of sending the images, screenshots of the site your image or video is on, etc.)
Protect Your Online Identity
It’s always important to keep your online identity safe. This can range from changing your passwords to updating your privacy settings and blocking the perpetrator who did this to you. If you’re in an abusive relationship and experiencing digital abuse, check out this article on how to protect yourself.
The mental health effects of revenge porn or intimate images can be serious. If you are having upsetting thoughts, depression, anxiety, or stress-related symptoms, please don’t feel guilty to reach out for support. There is no shame in talking to a professional and quite frankly, it may be easier than confiding in your family members or friends, as they should be an unbiased source.