It can be extremely traumatic and distressing to find your intimate images/videos online when you didn’t consent to them being shared. A life can be turned upside down.

Just to be clear, “Revenge Porn” is defined as the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent. This includes both images originally obtained without consent (hidden cameras, hacking, recording without knowledge) as well as images consensually shared within the context of an intimate relationship. That means that just because you willingly gave a picture or video to your boyfriend, doesn’t mean that he has the right to show it to others or upload it online. “Revenge porn’ is a form of conjugal violence.

According to reports, since the creation of the law 2 years ago, 1 adult is accused of “revenge porn” every week in Quebec, Canada. The majority of the accused are male and the victims are female. The accused range from the age of 18 to 62 years of age.

What recourse do I have if I’m a victim of “revenge porn?” Can I call the police?

Yes. In Canada, sharing intimate images of someone without their consent, even if only with a small group, has been a crime since March 2015 (section 162.1 of the Criminal code). The law applied to people of all ages.

woman-1585593_1920Unfortunately, the authorities do not have the mandate to help the victims have the images removed unless the case went in front of a judge who made a ruling in favour of the victim. The law does empower the court to order the removal of intimate images/videos from the Internet and can reimburse the victim for any costs incurred in the removing of the intimate images/videos. So don’t expect anyone to sit with you and walk you through the process. You will need to do this by yourself. Luckily, there are some sites with lots of information on how to do this. I write about them later on.

So you are aware, what the police will do is investigate and then the Crown or the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions in Quebec will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to lay charges. So make sure to keep all proofs you may have. This will help your case.

Depending on the nature of the crime, a serious offence could result in a prison term of up to 5 years, while a less serious conviction can result in up to 6 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. The first “Revenge Porn” Convict, a Winnipeg man, got 90 days in jail, for posting nude photos of his ex on Facebook after their relationship ended.

You can decide at the inquiry stage not to prosecute, but by doing so you lose that right to prosecute at a later date if the non-consensual sharing of intimate images occurs or the threats continue or start again.

Should I get a lawyer?

No. In Canadian criminal law, the Crown is the lead. It is never up to the victim to hire a lawyer. That being said, it is possible to have recourse to a lawyer to sue civilly in order to obtain financial compensation. However, the process can be extremely costly with no guarantee of results.

Okay, now that I understand the legal side of the issue. How do I get the pictures/videos removed?

Most people want/need the images to be removed to continue living their lives.  Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to remove pictures/videos from the Internet, but many providers have taken steps to prevent their platform from being used for non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

beauty-1851189_1920The first step is to determine what service the pictures/videos are displayed on and contact that service to request that they remove it. You will need to identify yourself as the person in the picture. If you are a minor add your age to the request, there are additional laws that protect minors.

Many Social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, and Yahoo doesn’t permit revenge porn. It doesn’t mean that people can’t upload pornographic pictures/videos, but it makes it easier to flag and get them removed. Drive, Google+, YouTube and Blogger also collaborates according to the US Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. You can, therefore, signal the existence of these images to these sites to have them removed. Microsoft (OneDrive, Xbox, etc.) will also remove non-consensual porn that is reported.

Drive, Google+, YouTube and Blogger also collaborates according to the US Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. You can, therefore, signal the existence of these images to these sites to have them removed. Microsoft (OneDrive, Xbox, etc.) will also remove non-consensual porn that is reported.

Facebook recently implemented a new image recognition technology to prevent a photo posted by a user from being published again on the social network. This includes Messenger and Instagram.

All of this makes it easier to get any inappropriate pictures/videos off the internet, but please be aware that even if the images/videos were removed, they can still reappear. There is nothing easier than making a copy in the digital age. So anyone could have made a personal copy and decide to put it back up.

Search engines such as Google and Bing can remove search results leading to “revenge porn” when requested. Content will still exist, but the URL (website address) will be excluded from any search result.

The most complicated are when the images are hosted on obscure sites (darknet) for which the “revenge porn” is possibly a lucrative market. Revenge porn is still legal in many American states. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done in this case.

What can I do if someone threatens me with revenge porn, but hasn’t done anything yet? What can I do if my ex-boyfriend/husband threatens to put online the intimate images that I had sent to him? 

Cases of “revenge porn” are often coupled with threats, harassment, and psychological or physical intimidation.

If the fears are serious, it is possible to request that the person is subject to a “peace bond” (section 810 of the Canadian Criminal Code), which will prohibit him from sharing the photos. This means that the court can make an order to prevent someone from distributing intimate images/videos. You are going to say that it’s just a piece of paper, but here is what happens if he doesn’t comply to the “peace bond”: In the event of non-compliance, the maximum penalty is 4 years, which can act as a deterrent.

beauty-2165718_1920You are going to say that it’s just a piece of paper, but here is what happens if he doesn’t comply to the “peace bond”: In the event of non-compliance, the maximum penalty is 4 years, which can act as a deterrent.

In order to get a “peace bond”, you must contact the police. You can also go directly to a courthouse, alone or with a lawyer.

Can I get help from someone to find and remove all pictures/videos?

There are no hotlines for “revenge porn” in Canada, but in Quebec, the resource line for victims of sexual assault may be able to help. Their phone number is 1-888-933-9007.

What is my share of responsibility?

Friends and family might tell you that you should never have taken said photos in the first place if you didn’t want it published for everyone to see, but this isn’t accurate. Under the law, you can take pictures/videos of yourself with the expectation of privacy. There is no share of responsibility if there was no consent. By consent, we mean consent to make the image public to everyone. If you took the picture/video and sent it to your boyfriend for his private viewing, it’s not consenting to have it posted on the internet for everyone’s enjoyment.

Some important resources: