D'Alessandro & Wright, LLC

Victims of 'revenge porn' pay a high price for the offense

Technological advances and devices have changed the way we live. In some cases, they make us feel safer, like having a camera in your doorbell. In other cases, however, technology facilitates gross violations of our privacy.

So-called "revenge porn" is one example of how people use technology to hurt and embarrass others through privacy violations. And the consequences of this act are severe, particularly for the victims who suffer damage.

Victims pay the price

Backing up, we should explain that "revenge porn" refers to the act of sharing intimate photos or videos of someone else without that person's consent. Typically, it is a scorned ex who disseminates private images with the intention of embarrassing or hurting the person in them.

Victims of these vicious violations can suffer incredible damages. They often experience emotional distress and humiliation, as well as economic and professional damages. For instance, recently a former U.S. Representative resigned from her position in Congress after nude photos of her were leaked. She claims her estranged husband released them to hurt her and her career.

These types of damages cannot simply be wiped away; they create a stain on a person's reputation and relationships. And because of how damaging "revenge porn" is, there are consequences for the person who engages in such a terrible act.

Consequences for perpetrators

A person who disseminates a sexually explicit image without the subject's consent is breaking the law. In Rhode Island, a first offense is a misdemeanor, which can mean jail time and fines. A subsequent offense is a felony, meaning lengthier imprisonment and higher fines.

However, it is important for victims to understand that civil penalties can also be possible. Filing a lawsuit against the person who released intimate images -- or threatened to release these images -- can lead to compensation for the victim. This compensation can allow a victim to recover economic and non-economic losses suffered as a result of another person's negligence and recklessness.

Of course, money will not undo hurtful acts. However, it can be another means of holding a perpetrator responsible. It can also make it a little easier for a victim to recover from the event and begin to move forward.

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