Start a Dialog With Your Community

The effects of this violence

The non-consensual publication of sexual content graphic material is a kind of gender violence. Today it’s known that the consequences for the victims vary according to the cultural context.

In the psychology field, investigation points out the significant emotional anguish experienced by victims. This includes anger, guilt, paranoia, depression, low self-esteem and even suicidal thoughts. Degradation of personal relationships and feelings of isolation can also be the outcome.

Victims suffer countless consequences in other professional and personal spheres, such as job loss and abandonment of educational spaces, mainly because these environments can contribute to the harassment, bullying and intimidation of the victim due to the publication of the non-consensual material.

Besides the non-consensual publication of intimate videos and images, a great number of victims also suffer under the publication of their names, social networks, addresses and telephone numbers, which is the reason why they sometimes take more extreme measures like abandoning their houses and having a 24/7 protection circle for safety reasons.

Victims may experience difficulties in finding a job or in a future admission in some other environments, since it’s been common to make Internet searches to evaluate possible candidates. Some victims change their names trying to scape the association.

Support the victim

Now that you’re familiar with the consequences of this kind of gender violence, you should also focus on giving support to the victim. Here we offer some recommendations to help you doing this:

Do not re-victimize. “First of all, why did you take these pictures?”, “You should’ve thought better before letting this video be recorded”. This kind of statement – that increases the victim’s anguish, but that also has some conservative tone to blame the victim with an aggression – only takes the victim back to the circle of violence. Always remember to tell the victim: IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, IT’S NOT NATURAL, AND YOU DON’T DESERVE IT.

Create a circle of trust. Provided that you have the authorization of the victims, organize a circle of reliable people around them, people who know what happened and can offer different kinds of support.

Be there. Never forget to be there for the victim in a respectful way, because they have a tendency to isolate themselves. That means giving a word of support in tough moments or simply accompanying the victim while going to the police – try to always be at her or his side.

Provide orientation. Frequently, victims have no psychological conditions to seek for help. Support them and look for information to guide them, they need to know the tools at their reach: from mental health to practical information on how to download the material from the Internet platforms, and the legal and judicial possibilities.

Take action! If you want to take action against the offender, you should collect evidence, but also evaluate a few things in the circle of trust and with the victim itself:

1) if it’s appropriate to talk to the offender and ask him to remove the material;

2) if you should take legal action;

3) if you should take other kinds of action (inside a legal framework) to report the aggressor (present evidence to the employer, post about the case in social networks, etcetera).

Strategies to start a dialog in your community

If a case of non-consensual pornography has happened in your circle of friends, colleagues, study group or in another social context, maybe it’s time to discuss these issues at length in your community and avoid further victims of this kind of gender violence. The worst solution is to pretend that this kind of aggression doesn’t exist, because this would imply that the aggressor(s) suffer no consequences, while the victim must deal with the entire effects of this violence for a long time, and in silence.

Therefore, and depending in which environment you are, suggest a conversation about the recording, storage and non-consensual publication of images and videos of sexual or erotic content through Internet and other electronic media. For example:

If the case occurs in an educational environment, organize a workshop to reflect upon the problem with the student centre or the student representation. Convince teachers, directors, representatives and colleagues of the importance to talk about this kind of gender violence. Try to guide the conversation to deepen reflections and achieve concrete commitments: what is the responsibility of the community when this kind of incident occurs? Is it time to move forward and establish a written commitment?

If the case happens in a work environment, organize a workshop to reflect about it with labour unions, the human resources department or a group of workers. Try to promote the reflection and guide the conversation to achieve concrete commitments: what is the responsibility of the employer when a case like this happens? Is it time to move forward and establish a written commitment?

If the case happens within a friendship circle, bring up the subject among your friends. Move forward and recognize it as a gender related aggression (a heterosexual man will never suffer the same consequences) and reflect upon the importance of informed consent along all the process of sexual intercourse but also when it comes to its recording.

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