Dealing With Intimate Reveals
Discovering that someone, especially someone with whom you once shared an intimate relationship, is using your most private photos to try and shame you or damage your reputation can be heart breaking. But whether your ex is sharing personal and private photos of you online for revenge or some loser hacked into your computer or phone and is now distributing photos, there are steps that you can take to minimize the damage and get the pictures offline.
1# IDENTIFY THE ACCESS POINT AND CLOSE IT
How did the distributor gain access to the pictures?
- If you saved photos to a shared dropbox, cloud, or other photo sharing service, erase them. And if possible, terminate the other party’s access to the service.
- If someone has hacked into your computer or stole a flash drive, or other storage device, contact the police.
- If you provided your photos to the distributor, you can still get them removed. But it can become more challenging. The general rule of thumb is, as long as the photographer had your permission to take the photos, the person who takes the picture, owns the picture.
2# IDENTIFY THE PLATFORMS
Almost all social media and internet service providers have terms of service rules that prohibit either explicit photos or the posting of other people’s photos and will provide removal information. Follow the instructions, work with the platform’s customer service people and the pictures should be removed quickly.
Even pornography web sites will generally remove personal pictures if you alert them that the photos are being used without your consent.
3# IF YOU ARE NOT IDENTIFIABLE – DENY
While you will have to alert the various platforms that the picture(s) in question are of you, there is nothing preventing you from denying the pictures to friends and family, if you aren’t identifiable. Unless your face can be clearly seen or some other aspect of the picture makes it clear that the photos are of you….deny, deny, deny.
4# CONSIDER CONTACTING THE AUTHORITIES
The prevailing attitude has been that if you didn’t want sexually explicit photos distributed, you wouldn’t have taken them in the first place. Authorities were somewhat more sympathetic if the photos clearly show that you didn't know that they were being taken, such as when you were asleep or through a window or secret camera.
But attitudes are changing. Some states are identifying "revenge porn" as a legitimate form of harassment and intimidation and are taking steps to criminalize the actions of people who use compromising pictures or videos to shame or embarrass victims.
Civil courts are now considering the long term career, reputation, and financial effects on victims, as part of potential civil settlements. While many criminal courts see these pictures and videos as a component to harassment and domestic violence charges. Police and the courts are also more likely to get involved if the pictures contain someone under aged or are counter to an existing restraining order.
5# STOP TAKING NUDE OR SEXUALLY EXPLICIT PHOTOS OF YOURSELF
Really. Just stop. I understand that in the heat of the moment, it can be very sexy. I understand that you "should" be able to trust your partner and you "should" be able to do what you want with your body, without being shamed. But the fact is, the incidents of revenge porn is skyrocketing. No matter how much you love and trust your partner, statistically, this will one day be your ex, your bitter, angry, vengeful ex. And that fun little photo shoot will invariably turn out bad for the exposed person. Don’t make the matter worse by continuing to share these sorts of pictures, no matter how much you currently trust the other person.