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Dealing with Revenge Porn

News
25 July 2021
Falling victim to revenge porn can be a traumatic experience. What can you do to protect yourself and loved ones from becoming a target and what steps can you take should you fall prey to this invasive and emotionally traumatic crime?
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Amid an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across the world, more people than ever are relying on social media to stay connected. And while it has simplified the way we reach out to others and, possibly, find love, it does come with a number of risks – some more serious than others. In a rapidly escalating trend worldwide, several users (mostly women) find themselves falling victim to revenge porn and/or extortion. So, what can you do to protect yourself and loved ones from becoming a target and what steps can you take should you fall prey to this invasive and emotionally traumatic crime?

WHAT THE LAW SAYS

The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill was recently amended to include the distribution of intimate images and videos without the person’s consent with the intent to harm that person. “Any person who unlawfully and intentionally makes available, broadcasts or distributes, by means of a computer system, a data message of an intimate image of an identifiable person knowing that the person depicted in the image did not give his or her consent to the making available, broadcasting or distribution of the data message, is guilty of an offence.” If found guilty, the suspect could face a maximum three-year prison sentence, a fine or both. Also, the possession of any sexually suggestive images of children is a criminal offence.

Avoiding falling victim to revenge porn

  • The best way to avoid falling victim is to not send any intimate images of yourself. The moment you send it to someone, it could easily land up in the wrong hands without your knowledge.
  • If you are being pressured into supplying intimate images of yourself, speak up or end the conversation. If a loved one truly loves and respects you, they won’t hold it against you if you choose not to take intimate photos or provide recordings of yourself.
  • If you feel comfortable sharing images with someone, avoid including any identifying markers in your photos and videos. This includes your face, any tattoos or birthmarks and surroundings that could give away your physical location.
  • If you receive intimate content from someone else, do not share it with or show it to anyone else. Not only is it a violation of trust, but it could also land you in legal trouble.
  • Minors should be especially careful as the possession and distribution of sexually explicit or suggestive images of children is a crime, regardless of the sender’s intentions.

What to do if your images are exposed

  • Take screengrabs of the non-consensual content wherever it is posted and save it somewhere safe. This will serve as evidence later down the line.
  • Request the offender to remove the content and make it clear that you will seek legal recourse should they fail to act.
  • Report the post or messages to the relevant social media platform.
  • Report the matter to the police. If they are unwilling to assist, you can request to speak to the station commander. The police may never refuse to open a criminal case.
  • If the station commander is unable or unwilling to assist, you can report the matter to the SAPS Service Complaints Centre.
  • Should the social platform not remove the content in a timeous fashion, it’s best to reach out to a lawyer for further assistance in writing up takedown request to both the offender and the social media platform. If you’re unable to afford legal assistance, you can contact Legal Aid.

FOR PARENTS: if your child tells you their intimate images have been shared with others, refrain from scolding them for taking the images and videos. Right now, they need to feel safe and it is your responsibility to remain calm and assist your child in handling the matter.

Falling victim to revenge porn can be a traumatic experience. If you feel you need to speak to someone about your experience, you can reach out to any of the following counselling groups for further support:

SADAG

Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline

  • Call: 0800 70 80 90

Cipla 24-Hour Mental Health Line

  • Call: 0800 456 789
  • WhatsApp Chat Line: 076 882 2775

Lifeline South Africa

  • Call: 0861 322 322

Dr Reddy’s Helpline

  • Call: 0800 21 22 23

Suicide Crisis Line

  • Call: 0800 567 567

Akeso Crisis Helpline

For more info on sextortion, revenge porn and even artificially generated deep nudes, we speak to digital forensic expert, Danny Myburgh. 

Sources: SAPS | Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill | Connect Safely