Fighting for Online Privacy Rights
From “revenge porn” to sexual voyeurism, the rates of nonconsensual pornography have continued to increase not only in the United States, but across the world at large. According to one shocking study published in the Psychology of Violence last year, as many as 1 in 12 participants reported that they had been victimized by nonconsensual pornography in their lifetime, with 1 in 20 reporting that they had actually committed these heinous acts. Another study found that 1 in 10 participants had been threatened with nonconsensual pornography by a former romantic partner.
In a recent example of this phenomenon, numerous women were surreptitiously filmed on a college campus. The sexual abuse lawyers at Hoyt and Blewett PLLC believe that it’s time we called attention to this important and increasingly pervasive problem.
In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of what the term “nonconsensual pornography” means –and how you can hold abusers accountable for violating your rights to privacy and safety.
What Is Nonconsensual Pornography?
Nonconsensual pornography is usually defined as the distribution of sexually explicit images and videos without the consent of the people depicted. Although you might be more familiar with the related term “revenge pornography,” this is only one specific act under a much larger umbrella of nonconsensual pornography. While both men and women can be victims, women are much more likely to be targeted, featured online, and harassed. In fact, according to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, up to 90% of all revenge porn victims are women.
Nonconsensual pornography can include acts like:
- Placing hidden cameras in public bathrooms, hotel rooms, gym locker rooms, and other places for sexual gratification
- “Deepfaked” images and videos that use machine learning to superimpose a victim’s head onto a pornographic actor
- Nude or sexual images posted by former partners and exes looking to humiliate, embarrass, and degrade the victim (and without consent)
- “Upskirting” and “downblousing,” or taking sexually-provocative pictures of victims in public places without their knowledge
While the reasons behind these actions may differ, the result is often the same. Victims of all types of nonconsensual pornography suffer from high rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and post-traumatic stress. They may also risk losing their jobs or schooling opportunities and face higher risks of stalking, blackmail, and online harassment.
Case Study: Erin Andrews v. Marriott
Unfortunately, not all states have passed legislation criminalizing nonconsensual pornography or the online trafficking of these images. This is one reason why it’s so important for victims to seek justice through the civil justice system, as did sportscaster Erin Andrews in the case of Andrews v. Mariott International.
After Ms. Andrews’ stalker booked a hotel room right next to hers, he proceeded to film her without knowledge or consent by tampering with the peephole of her room – and the video then received over 17 million online views due to her celebrity status. Because the Nashville Mariott hotel staff allowed the stalker to book the room without notifying Ms. Andrews, a jury found both parties liable for her resulting injuries, which included significant emotional distress and damage to her career prospects. Ms. Andrews was awarded over $55 million in the resulting verdict.
Have You Been Victimized by Nonconsensual Pornography?
If you’ve suffered as a result of another person sharing nonconsensual pornography depicting you, we encourage you to contact our Montana sexual abuse attorneys at Hoyt & Blewett PLLC. We believe in sticking up for those victims whose rights have been violated, and with decades of legal experience, we have the tools and resources to very successfully advocate on your behalf.
Call our law firm at (406) 233-1302 today to schedule your free initial consultation.