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Is There Real Revenge Porn on Mainstream Porn Sites?

“Revenge porn.” At this point, we’re all probably a little too familiar with the issue of revenge porn—also known as nonconsensual porn or image-based abuse.

“Revenge porn.” At this point, we’re all probably a little too familiar with the issue of revenge porn—also known as nonconsensual pornography or image-based abuse.

Nonconsensual pornography sharing is basically when nude or nearly nude pictures/videos are posted on the internet without the permission of the person in the photo or video.

Revenge porn is a subcategory of an even larger problem, known as nonconsensual pornography sharing. The title of “revenge porn” is misleading because revenge is not always the motivating factor for sharing someone else’s intimate images, and it’s never “deserved.”

Related: 15 Surprising Facts about How Common Revenge Porn Is

This act seems to be increasingly utilized by the perpetrator as retaliation for romantic relationships going south, and is becoming more and more prominent with the growing popularity of sexting.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of evidence to show that image-based sexual abuse and nonconsensual pornography are increasingly common issues on popular porn sites. The fact is, most porn sites do not verify age or consent, meaning virtually anyone can post anything—including image-based sexual abuse.

In fact, there have been many documented instances of verified accounts posting nonconsensual content or even child sexual abuse material (aka “child porn”) on porn sites.Pornhub sued by 40 Girls Do Porn sex trafficking victim. (2020). BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55333403COPY ParlVu. (2021). Meeting no. 20 ETHI— Standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics. Retrieved from https://parlvu.parl.gc.ca/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20210219/-1/34789?Language=English&Stream=VideoCOPY 

Here are five other facts about nonconsensual image-sharing, also known as “revenge porn.”

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Five facts about “revenge porn”

1. Research shows that porn consumers are more likely to forward intimate images without consent. Researchers suggest this may be because regular porn consumers tend to develop sexually objectifying attitudes towards others.van Oosten, Johanna M. F., & Vandenbosch, L. (2020). Predicting the willingness to engage in non-consensual forwarding of sexts: The role of pornography and instrumental notions of sex. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(4), 1121-1132. doi:10.1007/s10508-019-01580-2COPY 

2. 1 in 12 U.S. adults report that they have been victims of image-based abuse—sometimes called “revenge porn—and 1 in 20 report that they have been perpetrators of image-based abuse.Ruvalcaba, Y., & Eaton, A. A. (2020). Nonconsensual pornography among U.S. adults: A sexual scripts framework on victimization, perpetration, and health correlates for women and men. Psychology of Violence, 10(1), 68–78. https://doi.org/10.1037/vio0000233COPY 

Related: 3 Leaked Celebrity Sex Tapes You Didn’t Know Were Actually Revenge Porn

3. 1 in 3 underage teens report having seen nonconsensually shared nudes of other minors—which is legally considered “child pornography.”Thorn. (2020). Thorn research: Understanding sexually explicit images, self-produced by children. Retrieved from https://www.thorn.org/blog/thorn-research-understanding-sexually-explicit-images-self-produced-by-children/COPY 

4. Research indicates that “hidden cam” videos are a common theme on porn sites, making it difficult to determine which videos are consensual and which are not.Vera-Gray, F., McGlynn, C., Kureshi, I., & Butterby, K. (2021). Sexual violence as a sexual script in mainstream online pornography. The British Journal of Criminology, doi:10.1093/bjc/azab035COPY 

5. According to one survey of nonconsensual pornography victims, 51% reported having suicidal thoughts due to the image-based abuse, and 93% reported experiencing severe emotional distress.End Revenge Porn (2014). Revenge porn statistics. Civil Cyber Rights Initiative. Retrieved from https://www.cybercivilrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/RPStatistics.pdfCOPY 

Fast Facts

Hope for the future

Many victims of image-based sexual abuse—also known as revenge porn—or deepfakes feel powerless. They’re repeatedly exploited each time these abusive images are viewed or shared, yet the idea of removing them from the vast sea of the internet seems impossible.

If either horrific reality is something you’ve experienced, you’re not alone, and you do have options. Removing anything from the internet permanently isn’t always possible, but there are steps you can take to slow the spread of abusive images. Read this article to learn more.

Related: 7 Things You Can Do If You’re a Victim of Deepfakes or Revenge Porn

No matter the circumstances or what our porn-saturated culture deems as normal, the exploitation of another human being is never acceptable—whether those images are “real” or digitally engineered.

It may be discouraging to live in a world where there’s a demand for nonconsensual porn of real people, but there’s also hope for the future.

Victims can be empowered survivors who speak out about their experiences and fight for change. Each of us can help stop the demand for exploitative content, and expose the industry that normalizes and fuels their abuse.

Click here to learn what you can do if you are a victim of image-based abuse or revenge porn.

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