While we are in the grips of the Coronavirus, many of us (the unlucky ones without live-in boyfriends or really friendly housemates) are having to shift their sexual energy online. Video apps like Zoom and Houseparty are being used more than ever and it can be a great way to express yourself while staying safe.

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that you may need to protect yourself in other ways when it comes to people recording or sharing your escapades. 

WHAT IS REVENGE PORN?

Image Based Sexual Abuse or Revenge porn as it’s commonly known is the sharing of private sexual materials, such as photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress. It was made illegal in 2015 and the offence applies online, offline and to images which are shared electronically or in a more traditional way so includes the uploading of images on the internet, sharing by text and email, through messaging services, or showing someone a physical or electronic image.

TRUSTING SOMEONE

This one is up to your own judgement. You must decide whether the person you are having webcam sex with is the type that will be confidential. If there is any uncertainty, it’s probably best to keep yourself hidden as much as you can.

NOT THE FACE

It’s safe to assume that before you go on cam with someone, then they have already seen your face. Unless you completely trust them, then try and keep the cam view to a body shot only. The choice of where you’d like the camera focused is up to you. If you are on a broadcast site like Cam4, it’s definitely better to keep your face under wraps, as you don’t know who is watching.

IDENTIFYING FEATURES

It might not just be your face that’s a standout. If you have any recognisable tattoos or piercings, then they could be used to identify you. It might be unavoidable to not how them, but you could maybe use edits or creative angles to hide them. However, if you aren’t showing your face, there is plausible deniability. This also applies to your set dressing. If your background is recognisable, it could be used to identify you. So, turn the framed photos around on your bedside table. 

SENDING ARCHIVE FOOTAGE

Again, this does come down to trust. Sending sex videos and pictures of yourself to other people is often standard gay practice. However, the lockdown may lead you to trying this for the first time. It’s important to use the right apps. While Whatsapp does now allow you to delete things you have sent for both parties, the recipient may have it set up that pics and vids automatically save to their camera roll. Apps like Snapchat obviously allow you to send photos and clips that disappear after viewing and alerts you to screen shots. However, a simple Google shows you there are ways around this, so it’s best to be vigilant. Instagram DMs allow you to send temporary videos and images just like Snapchat and they also allow you to ‘unsend’ anything you wish to disappear. Instagram also alerts you to anyone who attempts an unsolicited screen shot. If someone has a screen record set up, then you are unlikely to know about it. If you are unsure about a person’s intentions, it’s best to be safe than sorry. 

SUPPORT

In recent years, due to the increases of Image Based Sexual Abuse, we’re seeing lots people report a version of PTSD related to revenge porn. Recent reports have shown that those who have been a victim of revenge porn experience similar issues of those who experience face-to-face sexual abuse including anxiety, depression, loss of sleep, not to mention trust issues. It’s worth nothing that not everyone who is a victim of revenge porn experiences PTSD, but it happens. If you feel you are experiencing PTSD symptoms as a result of Image Based Sexual Abuse, then it’s important you talk to someone. Contact you GP or call the Revenge Porn Helpline and they can point you in the right direction. 

Ian Howley, Chief Executive of LGBT HERO, the parent organisation of GMFA offered his thoughts, “While it’s important that we offer advice on how to protect yourself from experiencing Image Based Sexual Abuse, those who share images without consent need to understand that it’s not only is this against the law, and you could end up in prison for this, but you could inflict a lot of emotional pain on someone who put trust in you. You have a responsibility to them and yourself not to share the images. It’s not worth it.”

What to do if someone shares your content online 

The current law states that anyone sharing your images online in any form without your consent is against the law. If you know your images or media has been shared without your consent and you want to do something about it, you can contact the Revenge Porn Helpline on 0345 6000 459.


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