Dear Law Enforcement

Dear Law Enforcement,

We need to talk about investigating Nonconsensual Image Abuse (NCIA), and Revenge Porn. 

You must take this more seriously. That’s not to say there aren’t some agencies or even some productive members of your teams that do investigate, but as a whole, you’re not putting enough effort into these cases. 

  • You need to allocate resources to your cyber-crime units. 
  • You need to train your dispatchers and operators that you DO investigate cybercrimes. Please stop sending victims to the FBI; they don’t work with adult cases.
  • You need to focus and put time into these cases.

It’s 2020, and things aren’t going to get less intertwined with technology. 

Victims of Nonconsensual Image Abuse (NCIA), also known as Revenge Porn, are going without help due to a lack of effort to understand and enforce cyber-crime laws. Remember, you are the first line of defense for victims of NCIA. In a world where victim-blaming runs rampant, you need to be willing to help those that exercise their bravery in reporting.

Eliminate Victim Blaming Practices

Please stop telling victims they shouldn’t have shared intimate photos with the person they trusted — we know, and we learned the hard way. Forcing a victim to engage in retrospective or “if only” thinking doesn’t help, and it certainly doesn’t take back that a crime occurred and a person was violated. 

As we all know, victims of sexually related crimes are far too often greeted with blame when they try to report. Why do you think formal reporting numbers are so far off from the hundreds of studies on prevalence? What we all need is for law enforcement to practice exercising objectivity. Instead of thinking, “Well, I wouldn’t send a photo like that to someone,” try to think, “was a crime committed here?” Statutes are available at your fingertips to help you recognize the indicators of a crime.

By the way, consensually sharing private photos with your partner is not a crime. Sharing photos without consent is a crime – in 46 states. Consent is key.

Treat NCIA Reports as an Assualt Report

Let’s be honest, though; many of you need training on handling reports of assault too.

You should treat victims of NCIA with the same sense of respect and compassion that you would treat a victim of physical assault. Studies show that victims of Revenge Porn exhibit the same long-term damaging impacts as victims of in-person assault. 

When someone calls to report a crime taking place, they aren’t doing it for entertainment. They’re doing it because they’re hurt, scared, and want to prevent this crime, whatever it is, from happening again. Your job is to get to the bottom of what happened, collect evidence, take the report, and bring it to Lady Justice’s bench. Sure, sometimes it’s more complicated than you’d prefer, and you have to consult colleagues or read up on a specific law. Try to remember that because something is difficult doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve your attention. The difficult to understand reports are the ones that desperately need your help to provide a victim with the opportunity to see justice and protection.

Remember: it is not your job to judge someone for doing something you wouldn’t do. Your job is to protect your community, and I recommend you do it with compassion and objectivity.

So let’s go over some things you should do when someone reports Nonconsensual Image Abuse or Revenge Porn.

  1. Hold your judgments until you’re off the clock — even then, keep them to yourself.
  2. Search for a statute that fits if one is not provided to you by the victim/reporter. 
  3. Be compassionate and objective. 
  4. Ask if the reporter knows who committed the crime. If not, see number 5. 
  5. Take steps to collect available evidence — BEFORE TALKING TO THE PERSON OF INTEREST (POI)
    1. Issue subpoenas to collect identifying information.
    2. Collect devices (if you have probable cause enough for a warrant, which you should).
    3. Make sure you have all the available evidence needed.
  6. Now you can talk to the POI because you already have collected the evidence, and they do not have a chance to tamper with it. But, be wary. If the victim expresses fear of being harmed, take that seriously, and apply necessary precautions, such as helping the victim get an order of protection and/or a no-contact order.
  7. Remember. You are an advocate for the law and those affected by someone breaking the law. 
  8. And finally, remember, you have the burden of investigating a crime. Even if that crime doesn’t seem serious to you personally, if it is a law that has been broken, you have a duty to investigate it.

I know resources can be limited, but your communities need you to assess your teams, and if you don’t have the resources to help victims, something is very wrong, and it needs to be remedied. 

This comes from a woman who spent over a year investigating her own victimization, with far fewer resources than you have to offer, only to be told it’s not enough, to be told I could see true justice if only law enforcement had done this or that. This is coming from a woman who is scared her abuser will walk free, knowing she’s not the only one he’s harmed. This is coming from a woman who wants to help you help our communities. 

So, let’s do this. Let’s make a change.

FAQ for my Revenge Porn Poster

Q. What is revenge porn?

Revealing or sexually explicit images or videos of a person posted on the Internet, typically by a former sexual partner, without the consent of the subject and in order to cause them distress or embarrassment.

In short: Posting nudes of someone online without their consent.

See also the definitions of: Stupid, Uncool, Criminal Behavior.

Q. Did I commit a crime?

Yes. It’s illegal to post naked photos of someone without their consent.

Consequences in your state:  

Your first offense is considered a misdemeanor (punishable with up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 fine).

Your second offense (yeah, we know about that one, too) is considered a third degree felony (punishable with up to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine).

Q. Am I entitled to a woman’s body? Even if we dated once?

Absolutely not. In fact I’d venture to say you’re lucky you were ever able to look at or enjoy her body.  Specifically relating to photographs of her body post-breakup: Sure, a person cannot sue to get their photos back after a break up (yet) but see the FAQ above in reference to posting those photos online without her consent.

It is not your right to share her body with other people without her consent. Notice the term HER in context with the term BODY.

VOCABULARY:

HER – Her is a possessive pronoun. This means that something following the term “her” belongs to that person. In context with BODY which follows the term “her” – the body belongs to HER.

CONSENT – (noun) permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Remember, consent is freely given, activity specific, active and ongoing, can be revoked at ANY point.

***this also applies to women who post nudes of men or other women and men who post photos of other men. Basically: NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO ANYONE’S BODY. There, that wasn’t hard.

Q. I posted anonymously, that means it can’t be traced back to me right?

No. Chances are it’s being traced back to you right now, or already has been.

Q. I used an old photo from years ago LOL she’ll never figure out it was me.

Pretty sure she knows. See above.

Q. Does posting on Anon-IB or other revenge porn forums make me a cool guy?

If by cool guy you mean a complete loser with no productive or fulfilling actual life.. Then sure, you’re probably the coolest guy.

Q. Does posting revenge porn make me look like I am insecure?

I think it probably solidifies the fact that you’re insecure. Before you posted people could probably already tell you hated yourself, but after, it’s really obvious that you need constant attention and validation and you’re willing to do just about anything to get it.  

Q. Is my mom going to get in trouble if I used her internet to post naked photos of someone without consent?

This is simultaneously gross, sad, and pathetic. But yes, you’ve made your mother vulnerable to legal action because you couldn’t get over your need to hurt someone or take advantage of trust they once gave you.

Q. Will women trust getting naked in front of me again?

Well, you sound like you have some serious control and insecurity issues so I’m not sure why they would anyway but my bet is that your “secret”, “anonymous” internet activities will probably be a deterrent.

Q. Will posting revenge porn affect my business?

Getting arrested and paying heavy fines might affect your business life, yes. I suppose you can keep trying your luck and find out for yourself?

Q. Did I hurt her by posting her topless photo online?

If that’s what you were looking for… yes you did. You made her feel unsafe, insecure, and ashamed. You made her feel like she had no agency over her body. You made her second guess herself and have made it more difficult for her to trust others.  For five months she woke up everyday feeling awful about herself, she cried daily, and couldn’t understand why someone would do something like this. She looked over her shoulder worried everyday because she didn’t know right away who the “anonymous” people posting and commenting about her body were. She didn’t want to go out in public in fear that the people she saw were people that were commenting on the photo.  You made her fear for losing her job. You made her experience the shame of her family finding out her naked photos were online.

BUT I think the one thing you’re forgetting though is who you’re dealing with. As much as you hurt her now and in the past – this girl is a badass. Everything you hated about her before (her intelligence, her drive, her voice) has just gotten stronger. She was always a fighter before, but now she’s part of an army.. And we’re coming for you.