A legal expert's advice for responding to 'revenge porn'

by Nadja Khelifi,Family Lawyer

When 21-year-old Perth woman ‘Sonya’ met Danny, she thought she’d met a man she could have a long relationship with but, sadly, it was not meant to be.

The couple was constantly ‘on and off,’ frequently breaking up over Danny’s possessiveness. After yet another breakup, Sonya decided to give Danny one more chance; the two reunited and spent the night together.

They’d had sex but, unknown to Sonya, Danny had recorded it on his phone.

When they broke up again two weeks later, Sonya was notified by several of her friends that they had seen a ‘porn video’ of her and Danny that he’d posted to Snapchat.

“I didn’t actually see the video, although a few of our mutual friends did and they called me as soon as they saw it to let me know. I had no idea he had recorded anything until I was told,” Sonya told 9Honey.

“I have no idea how many people saw the video but I know our mutual friends did and then there were other people talking about it. It was humiliating. It's definitely not something you want shared with people.”

As soon as Sonya found out about the secret sex video, she contacted Danny who admitted, via text message, to filming their night in bed and posting it on social media.

“Five days after finding out, I went to the police and they were able to upload all of the information off my phone. The two friends who had seen the video also made a statement to support me,” Sonya explains.

Danny had begged Sonya not to take action but Sonya and her family were adamant she take the appropriate legal steps. The case ended up in court where Danny plead guilty; he was fined $1000 and put on a good behaviour bond.

Sonya’s distressing experience happened last year, but now the penalties for posting revenge porn are set to be a lot tougher.

In February, revenge porn laws passed the Senate, which will see penalties of up to $525,000 for corporations and $105,000 for individuals for the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

Lawyer Marie Fedorvov told 9Honey she hopes the new laws will work as a deterrent as she believes revenge porn is on the rise.

“It’s quite common for resentful men to post inappropriate material of their ex online after separation, with Snapchat being a favourite. People think that Snapchat videos are only available for you to watch once and then they disappear,” Marie says.

However, people are still viewing these clips and can record them. This behaviour leaves people humiliated and embarrassed and can severely impact their lives.

“Posting revenge porn online is now seen as Domestic Violence which enables women subjected to this behaviour to apply for a Domestic Violence Order and specifically to request the Court to Order that such material be taken down by the Respondent. This is often what women truly want.”

Ms Fedorov advises any women who discover a partner, or ex-partner has shared intimate vision of them to immediately demand in writing that it be removed and to report the incident to the police.

“Should the perpetrator refuse to take the revenge porn down then they can visit their local courthouse and apply for a Domestic Violence Order to ask the Court for an Order that the perpetrator remove the post and any other orders that might be required for their own protection,” Marie explains.

“Women are generally feeling extremely embarrassed and unsure of what they should do. They don’t know what their rights are and are unsure as to whether there are any consequences for the poster of the revenge porn so they do nothing.”

“People need to be educated on the consequences of revenge porn before it happens so that those thinking of posting may think twice before they hit upload.”

Sonya, who has never spoken to her ex-boyfriend again, urges other women to take action if they end up in a similar situation.

“It felt horrible to find out that anyone, let alone someone who I trusted, could do this. But it’s good to know, if you take action, you will get a positive result. It's just so unfortunate that it’s something that continues to happen,” Sonya said.

During the Commonwealth Games (from Wednesday 4 April 2018 to Sunday 15 April 2018) Fedorov Lawyers will remain open and available for you. Please do not hesitate to contact us during this time.

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