What To Do When You Are A Victim of Revenge Porn

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At first I thought somebody had tried to steal my identity. I sat at my office desk at work going through all the fake social media accounts that had been created and writing them down. I thought that reporting the accounts would be the way to go – but once I started to really dig, it seemed that not just my face was being used, but old photos of my body too. Panic arose through me and I called the police, sobbing in the rain outside of work, not knowing that it was only going to get worse. My images were all over gross porn websites and had been there for years. It was a dark day to say the least.

When you find out that you are a victim of Revenge Porn, you don’t really know what to do or what you should do. Do you run the risk of reporting it and the person who did this to you finding out? Do you run the risk of telling someone close to you and end up getting blamed for it?

Seeing as I found out at work, everybody I worked with also found out – which thankfully at the time was a small team of people. Even if I hadn’t, I probably would of had to trust my Directors in telling them just because of the amount of phone calls I had with my case officer in the beginning. I also told my closest friends, my brother and my ex boyfriend. I ended up telling more friends when drunk on a camping trip, and told my mum a month or so later.

It was a range of non-existent support, not-sure-what-to-say-support, emotional support and downright inappropriate comments.

When something happens to me I end up telling people about it (see above), but I know that with something like Revenge Porn, it can seem impossible to ever talk about it with anybody. The guilt, embarrassment and isolation can make somebody feel like even if they did tell somebody they would never understand and brush it off quickly. Revenge Porn is scarring and can lead to triggered mental health issues (trust me).

That’s why I write about my experience, because I know how horrible it is to deal with, and how alone it can make you feel.

I didn’t want to deal with the reporting of images when I found out. There was such a long list of websites, I couldn’t face pointing each person on the other end to my images. Thankfully, I found the Revenge Porn helpline, who helped me do just that. The service has contacts within many social media platforms as well as the persistence to deal with websites who aren’t so happy to take down some of their user’s content.

I tend to point other victims in the direction of the Revenge Porn helpline as they helped me out so much, and so I asked the great people who worked there to answer a few questions for victims of Revenge Porn:

What exactly does the Revenge Porn helpline do?

The RP Helpline was set up to support victims of non-consensual image sharing, by providing support, practical advice, guidance and signposting to additional services as required and where possible assistance in the removal of images and management of online content.

The helpline operates from 10am – 4pm, Monday to Friday and accepts phone calls, emails and our anonymous online reporting tool “whisper”, to engage directly with victims or those acting on their behalf.

The day to day experience of dealing with victims and the challenges they face enables us to provide guidance to policy makers, internet industry and media in order to raise awareness of the issue. 

What would you say to those scared to ask for help?

Feeling scared is a very natural reaction; it can help people to recognise and understand the presence of risk or potential harm but can also be a real obstacle to achieving if the fear holds us back from doing, especially if positive action is required. Acknowledging the feeling and taking steps to regain control is a mechanism for alleviating the scary feelings and feeling safe again.

What’s the most common thing you are asked?

For those who have become aware of images having been shared we are generally asked for help to have the content removed. However, we also have a significant number of calls about what to do because of the threat to share. The prospect of it happening, the often associated manipulation, feeling of helplessness and sense of violation, compound the fear and desperation.

Should those affected by RP be checking to see if their images have reappeared?

This is a difficult question to answer in broad terms because it is very much a personal thing, influenced by the nature of the circumstance. It can help some to know and they can assert control by checking and responding, but for others it may feel more comfortable not to allow this potentially consuming desire to become an imposition. Becoming aware that it may not be possible to have all content removed, and that material cannot always be easily searchable or accessible is probably a useful perspective to help individuals come to terms and move on with their lives.

Are there any other charities or services you would recommend?

We do work with a number of partners and related services, which we may recommend on a case by case basis. Commonly we commend or refer people to the following;

What one piece of advice would you give to those who have been/are a victim of RP?

Please don’t suffer alone, we understand, never judge and will do whatever we can to help. You can get through this and in doing so you will become stronger.

For advice you can contact us at help@revengepornhelpline.org.uk or telephone on 0845 6000 459.

If anybody out there still feels isolated, ashamed, or doesn’t know what to do about Revenge Porn, please do contact one of the above services including the Revenge Porn helpline, as they will be on your side no matter what. You can also talk to me if you want – my inbox is always open: lauren@thisstuffisgolden.com.

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