BullyVille in the Press
Uncovering the ugly new side of revenge
Article by: Chicago Sun Times
May 02, 2012

They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but the same also appears to be true for men.

Scorned lovers and bitter exes now have a cruel and criminal way to get revenge on their former lovers: they’re putting nude photos of them on the Internet.

“Revenge porn” is the new term describing pictures such as those featured on IsAnyoneUp?, a now-shuttered website. On the site, exes could submit intimate and nude photos of former lovers, along with messages detailing their lover’s past behavior and perceived wrongdoings.

While IsAnyoneUp? has thankfully been shut down (it was bought by an anti-bullying website, Bullyville.com), the damage the site has done lingers on, along with many of the photos that are permanently on the Internet for the world to see. In fact, the devastating and horrible impact of this violation has led to yet another new term: cyber rape.

Cyber rape might sound like a powerful description, yet the truth is that leaked naked pictures such as these can have a hugely negative impact on the victims and their families. While the violation isn’t physical, it is a violation of their sense of security and their privacy. Victims are not only embarrassed and shamed, but their reputations as well as their futures could be threatened.

Legally speaking, prosecuting cyber rape can be quite difficult. As Chicago attorney Corri D. Fetman says, “Targeting these websites can be very problematic. Site owners are often difficult to track down, especially if operating on an illegal foreign site. Additionally, the site may also invoke protection from the Communications Decency Act (which protects the website from liability for content that users post).”

Furthermore, targeting the actual submitters might be equally difficult. Fetman explains, “While the individual in the picture owns the copyright to the photo or video, from a practical perspective, once it is published, there are significant problems with proof when targeting the individual violator. You must be able to prove that it was in fact that person you sent the photo to who published the image and downloaded it to the website. Of course, the alleged violator will claim innocence and state that they did not post the photo or someone accessed their computer or account. By that time, the embarrassing image(s) is out there and your lawsuit will highlight your photos even more.”

Until the law catches up with revenge porn and our current technological climate, the best thing to do is to abstain from sexting and taking any nude photos. Even if you don’t send the picture out, you could lose your phone or have your computer hacked (which is what happened to several victims of IsAnyoneUp?).

If you do want to sext with your partner, realize that you are taking a risk and make sure that you are only sending nude photos to someone you deeply trust. If you do want to give your partner a sexy picture, you might want to go the old-school route and give them a printed photo. Just don’t be cavalier with these intimate pictures, and remember, it is preferable to erase these photos from your phone or computer when finished with them. 

Ultimately, sexting comes with risk that can outweigh the momentary novelty and excitement. And, as parents, it’s crucial to drive home the dangers of sexting to your teens. The pressure to sext and send nude photos is one that teens face everyday, and when their boyfriend or girlfriend promises to keep the picture private, it can be hard to resist. Talk to your kids about the risks involved and remind that once a picture is taken, it is out of their control forever.

Dr. Berman is the star of “In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman” on OWN and director of drlauraberman.com.

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