Header image a screenshot from the video by LADbible.

Revenge porn has been all over the news recently, and with the profitability of sexual exploitation, it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.

It’s been a particularly popular topic over the past few weeks because of the public scandal in which reality star Rob Kardashian posted a rant that included nude pictures of his former fiancée, Blac Chyna—but obviously, revenge porn isn’t just a celebrity issue. With even just a single photo or video, it’s something that can ruin countless men, women, boys and girls’ lives, worldwide.

RelatedRevenge Porn: Is It A New Form Of Digital Sex Slavery?

Take a look at this all-too-real example, in which a 16-year-old talks about how she was coerced into making sex tape, how that tape became public, and the effect that it’s had on her life. Even though the teen shown in this video is an actor, don’t let that lessen the value of this heartbreaking story.

It’s a pretty horrifying clip, and it gets right down to the bottom of why, and even how, this happens to so many young people. In too many cases, it’s manipulation and broken trust all wrapped up into one. There are threats like, “I’ll stop talking to you if you don’t do this,” and there’s normalization like, “Everybody’s doing it, it’s not a big deal.” And to the average teenager who trusts their exploiter, that’s reason enough to go through with sending a simple photo or video.

RelatedStudents From 71 High Schools Targeted By Huge Porn-Sharing Group

Then, when that trust is broken, there’s the embarrassment and shame and loneliness that come when victims think, “I’m the only one that’s ever been through this.” And sometimes, that loneliness and shame can drive a victim to self-harm, or even suicide.

There Are No Isolated Incidents

The rise of revenge porn highlights a troubling trend—demand for “real” images from real people (even and especially when they’re underage), and complete and total disregard for privacy and trust in the name of shares and “likes.”

The saddest part is that, even when victims feel ashamed, scared, and alone, there are tons of other people who have experienced the exact same thing. It’s been estimated that there are over 2,000 revenge porn sites on the internet, all of which receive enough traffic to continue existing, even despite the laws that prosecute people who post revenge porn. The fact is, supply follows demand. And we need to do our part to stop the demand.

RelatedUK Schools Might Start Teaching About The Harms Of Porn & Sexting

We’ve all heard a million times that “sex sells,” but apparently so does humiliation and objectification. Do the clicks and “likes” justify living in a world in which a majority of people agree that revenge porn is okay, or a world in which we watch porn even though we know it’s extremely degrading? Even if something like posting images of someone or sharing confidential photos can seem harmless at first, it’s degrading, humiliating, and life-ruining.

Dignity Is Dignity

We often speak about the serious dangers of sexting but let the crucial message of consent permeate your conversations about the issue of revenge porn. Whether the girl from the video (or any other revenge porn victim) “should have” allowed controlling Chris to film them is not the issue here, the simple fact is that Chris violated the law and uploaded a video that is considered child pornography, and that’s not okay.

RelatedLeah’s Story: From Revenge Porn Victim To Powerful Advocate

Just because the people in it aren’t famous or recognizable doesn’t mean that revenge porn can’t destroy lives—even in the video above, the victim says she first learned that the video had been posted when a friend let her know about it, and she’s been struggling with the knowledge that the video is out there ever since: “I hate that I can’t get it back,” she says. “No matter what I do, that video will always be online.”

RelatedPressing Send: Why Sexting Can Actually Be A Really Bad Idea

If that’s not proof enough of the horrors of revenge porn, just remember the story of the Italian woman who eventually committed suicide after a sex tape became public, or the story of revenge-porn-victim-turned-advocate Leah Nicole, who was the victim of revenge porn when she was just 14, or the other 14-year-old who was victimized by someone posting explicit photos.

Let’s Work Together

We can do better. Each one of these acts is horrifying and tragic, and each one could have been avoided if we, as a society, are educated on the dangers of sexting and put more emphasis on teaching people that exploitation is never never never okay.

Let’s remember that this is fundamentally about consent, sexual exploitation, and treating people like people, not objects. Fight the fight against all porn, including the humiliation of victims through cyberbullying and revenge porn. Join us in fighting for love and fighting for healthy relationships, instead.

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What YOU Can Do

Share this article to spread the word about how revenge porn steals someone’s dignity and humanity, and to show others that it’s never okay, no matter what.

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