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Queer Women Are the Biggest Victims Of Revenge Porn, Study Says

15% of lesbian and bisexual women have been threatened with revenge porn.
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One out of every 25 Americans has been threatened with or been a victim of revenge porn.

Consent isn’t just for sex. Sharing sexual images of someone without their permission is a major violation of privacy that is punishable by law in most states. It’s called revenge porn, and it’s just as insidious as the name implies.

The biggest victims of revenge porn are lesbian and bisexual women. In a survey conducted of 3,000 teenage and adult internet users, 15% of lesbian and bisexual respondents said someone had threatened them with revenge porn, and 7% said that someone had actually posted the porn. Two-thirds of these victims were teenagers or young adults under age 30.

If you’ve been a victim of revenge porn, you have a few legal options. If the photo is a selfie, then it’s possible to use federal copyright laws to your advantage and have the image removed. And if you report revenge porn to the police in thirty-four states or DC, the perpetrator can be punished by law.

Sadly, that’s easier said than done. Police officers commonly complain that they have no way of tracking down the perpetrator (which is false) and, as in most sexual harassment and assault cases, officers often blame the victim.

There’s also the biggest advantage and disadvantage of the internet: It catalogs everything forever. Even if you can get the photos taken down from one website, there’s no way to ensure that the photo won’t pop up on another website the next day.

Why does revenge porn mostly target women – especially queer women? In addition to the fact that women are simultaneously hypersexualized and slut-shamed 24/7, revenge porn ties into domestic violence. Although LGBT women and men both have similar rates of having their pictures exposed (roughly 7%), LGBT women are threatened twice as often. Researcher Amanda Lenhart speculates that threatening someone with revenge porn is an all-too-common coercive tactic used by abusive partners.

If you have been threatened with or made a victim of revenge porn, get more information on your legal options here.

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