Revenge porn is an issue that affects us all and is far from just a women’s issue.

This has been made apparent in a recent high profile case appearing in the media where an openly gay journalist was sacked after his employers were notified of private photographs of him posted on a website without his consent. We read a lot about the legal issues behind revenge porn but what is actually going on in the minds of the perpetrators and the subjects of the pictures.

What is revenge porn?

Revenge porn is the term used to describe the distribution of sexual graphic images normally where such distribution whether physically or electronic is without the subject’s consent. The motive behind revenge porn is to cause harm so it’s not surprising that some refer to it as nothing better than a hate crime, where others view it a form of sexual abuse, with some deeming it to be cyber rape. Emotionally, this form of cyber bullying and harassment can have detrimental effects on the subject, however with a deeper level of understanding of what is going on internally we can make a greater stand against it.

Psychology of the subject

Subjects of revenge porn find themselves the object of scrutiny, ridicule and prejudice. Many employers are inexperienced to deal with this burgeoning issue and some have been criticised for apparently mishandling the situation based on the perceived risk to their reputation and credibility. However, it is not just subject’s work lives that can be affected. Relationships can break down because of the publishing of an affair and ultimately many have been left feeling suicidal at the negative impact revenge porn has had on their lives.

The immediate embarrassment and anger can develop into feelings of guilt, shame, humiliation, stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep disturbance, thought disturbance, victimisation and depression.

Although men are largely free in society to bare bodies (namely chests) without repercussion, this does not allow for a more relaxed attitude to male revenge porn. The threat of harm is very real. Of the 10% of people who threaten to post revenge porn images, 60% go ahead and do so. The harm caused can be a very real trigger for mental health problems in the subject, not just depression but also PTSD is starting to be seen in revenge porn subjects.

Understanding these are all natural responses to a difficult and unpleasant situation is the first step in taking action towards a more positive outcome. It is fine to treat the symptoms but getting to the core cause of the matter will help. Understanding the mentality of the person who set the chain of events in motion will go a long way to moving forward.

Psychology of the perpetrator

As regularly seen in social media, the increasingly easy access we have to a wider audience means more and more people are using social media and the internet as a channel to express their negativity.

Revenge porn is not freedom of speech. It is a manifestation of hate.

Thrill seekers, territory offenders, retaliatory offenders and mission offenders are the most likely perpetrators of revenge porn. These are people who live without integrity, dignity or grace and exist within the track of fear and not the track of love. They apportion blame because they cannot take personal responsibility for their actions. Blame is an unhealthy emotion as it forces the perpetrator to want the subject to feel the same negative emotions the perpetrator feels so that they themselves do not have to deal with such emotions in a helpful positive way. By retaining power over your emotions you are denying the revenge pornographer of his feed and as such you are still in control.

Perpetrators are seeking catharsis and want to “have the last word” but it is clear by their actions that they are unhealthy weak individuals hiding behind a computer screen. Seeing them for what they really are and exposing such keeps the power with you and will unsettle them as the last thing they want is to be pitied and judged. In some cases, narcissism could be a factor for those who use revenge porn to get back at an ex having been annoyed that they were dumped before they were able to let go. In these cases it is even more so about the power struggle between two people. The best strategy here is to not engage or react where possible, make them play by your rules where you dictate how the situation will actually play out.

Bullies see cyberspace as a place where societal accepted norms and everyday rules no longer apply. Such disassociation makes it easier for the bully to cause harm and emotional pain as they do not always see the consequences of their actions. Some bullies actually enjoy watching the suffering they cause. Posting revenge porn releases brain chemicals which reduce the stress response and negative emotions which make the perpetrator feel better. They seize control of their environment and circumstances and play out fantasies by dissociative imagination. If you don’t outwardly react in the manner they expect they will not get the repeated hit of chemicals and will eventually feel a deficit of such like a drug addict in withdrawal. It is here you know you have the upper hand and you do not have to feel like a victim because they are the ones with the issue.

Advertisements

Recovering from revenge porn

It should not be a right to consume or distribute sexually graphic images without the subject’s consent nor should it be a right to publicise such material or engage in threats or harassment to publicise such. But apportioning blame turns you into a victim. Although being the subject of revenge porn can be hurtful, it is vital that you do not allow the negative actions of others to affect your self-worth. Use the experience as an opportunity to develop.

It is key to make better decisions about who you trust and who you allow yourself to be influenced by. Letting go of any previous bad decisions you may have made, changing your expectations and raising your standards will guide you towards avoiding attracting unhealthy or unstable people. You can create an environment where this is unlikely to happen again and as such let go of any fears you may hold on to.

It is easy to take on a victim mentality and as such consider retaliation on the photographer themselves or perhaps someone else later down the line. It is imperative to continue to behave in a healthy dignified way, recalibrate your beliefs and actions only towards the positive by putting out to the environment that which you want to attract

If you are the type to keep things to yourself then now is the time to reach out for support. If however you feel strongly about such and are the personality type to thrive in the limelight then take the opportunity to turn this seemingly negative situation into a positive one by bringing together your community and take a stand together against this latest form of bullying.

 

Time to take a stand

If we all refused to look at it, the perpetrators would lose their power and this issue would go away. Although that may be an unrealistic expectation, what we can do is stand up to these latest bullies in whatever way feels right for us.

As a society we are constantly allowing the unacceptable to become acceptable. Although it is easy to say and harder to do, we need to rise above the behaviour of perpetrators of revenge porn and put a stop to their negative actions.

If you are affected by the issues raised in this article and you need to talk to somebody call the LGBT Switchboard: LLGS on 0300 330 0630 or visit: http://www.llgs.org.ukor call Samaritans on 0845 790 90 90.

 

Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you’d like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.

-Advert-

Have you ever had your prostate massaged?

Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.