Combatting Revenge Porn


Exploitative revenge porn, or cybersexual abuse, affects many Americans, impacting not only their privacy rights but sense of well-being and safety.  Learn what cybersexual abuse is and the legal tools victims have to confront their abusers.

In creating this video, TalksOnLaw relied on insight from legal advocates and domestic violence victims assistance organizations.  This video was made in partnership with Sanctuary for Families and Safe Horizon and with the support of the pro bono department of Davis Polk.  Special thanks to Eboni K. Williams for volunteering her time. 

(Additional Resources for Survivors Available Below)


Additional Resources

The Hotline – If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support.

Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and can be difficult to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224. 

Cyber Civil Rights Initiative – for more information about laws governing revenge porn and specific information about your state. 

Manual for Advocates – A guide prepared by the New York Cyber Sexual Abuse Task Force for attorneys and advocates combatting cyber sexual abuse.

Links to the legal advocacy and pro bono partner orgainzations who helped in the making of this video:
     Safe Horizon
     Sanctuary for Families


Combatting Revenge Porn Brief Transcript


I want to tell you a story about Laura. Laura was living in New York and she recently ended a relationship with her boyfriend. Well, her ex, disgruntled, decided to take naked and vulnerable pictures of her and other videos and expose them online for everybody to see. Well, the posts went viral, causing Laura to feel embarrassed, ashamed, and even scared. This happens all too often to men and women all across the country. This is called cyber sexual abuse, more commonly known as revenge porn, and it’s a huge problem. 

I’m Eboni K. WIlliams. I’m a lawyer, journalist, and long-time advocate for domestic abuse survivors. Today we are going to explain the rights of revenge porn victims, and in doing so, draw on the insights of TalksOnLaw and an incredible group of public interest and pro-bono attorneys.

So, first off, what is cyber sexual abuse? Well again, it’s commonly referred to as revenge porn, but it’s important to know that anytime sexual, graphic images are shared without someone’s consent, that is abuse. The issue with calling it revenge porn is sometimes it implies that the person did something wrong to anger or incite revenge, when in fact that’s not true. It’s simply abuse. So, cyber sexual abuse can include real or even fake photos or video images of the victim. Cyber sexual abuse can also include the abuser sharing real or even made up details about the victims sexual history and sex life. So that’s how we define revenge porn.

Now let’s talk about the legal remedies and tools to help the victims. So, state laws can vary widely. Some criminal remedies can include harassment, non-consensual pornography laws, and invasion of privacy. These remedies can range from misdemeanors to felonies. So, California was one of the first states to have laws around this. In 2013, they banned nonconsensual pornography, which requires that an image of sexually explicit nature be sent without the person’s consent and that it likely causes emotional distress. Someone convicted of this faces a misdemeanor charge and faces up to a $1000 fine and six months in jail. In New York, there was no revenge porn law until 2019. Now, anyone sharing intimate or sexual videos or photos of a victim without their consent is facing potentially a Class A misdemeanor. A person convicted of that crime can face up to a year in jail or three years probation and a $1000 fine. In some states it becomes a felony charge if the behavior is repeated or if the victim is under 18. For more details about how these laws apply in your state, you can find that information at the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative website – link in our resources section. 

So, criminal remedies are one way to address cyber sexual abuse. But, there are other remedies as well. One can include family court, where the victim can even seek a protective order in family court to make the abuser stop doing what they are doing. And then there are also civil remedies, where in some states you can actually sue in court and get money damages for the abuse that you have sustained. For many victims, punishing the abuser is just one part. Frankly, they just want the images taken down. For images that are posted on social platforms, you can also take advantage of the terms of use of the platform itself. So for many of these platforms, the content itself could violate their terms of service agreement, so avail yourself to those opportunities. 

So that’s an overview of revenge porn, or cyber sexual abuse. If you think you might be a victim, be sure to seek assistance from an attorney or other organizations. I’m Eboni K. Williams, and thanks for watching TalksOnLaw.