Revenge porn, the unauthorized online publication of a woman’s intimate photos, is running rampant across the United States. Every day, more and more nude photos of unsuspecting women are slapped up onto revenge porn websites. In many cases, the poster of these photos is a scorned ex-lover. The women are humiliated by both the publication of their intimate photos and the obscene and degrading comments that are posted beneath them. But is it really the poster’s fault? After all, the woman consented to the photos being taken. What did she expect?
In our lives, we trust in friends, lovers, and family members. We trust them with our personal information, like secrets; with physical objects, like credit cards; and with abstract entities, like our hearts. Sometimes, unfortunately, the person we trust betrays us. We find out all too late that our judgment was off and that this person was not deserving of our trust. But is the betrayal our fault because we trusted in this person? Or is it the fault of the person who betrayed us?
Revenge porn victims, just like us, made a decision to trust someone who, ultimately, was not deserving of their trust. But unlike most of us, they do not suffer the betrayal of their trust privately. Instead, they suffer it publicly, in front of thousands of people.
The betrayer smears their secret all over the walls of the internet and laughs delightfully as people walk by, point accusingly, and say, “What did she expect? She should’ve known better.”
And the victim, already shamed, is shamed all over again.
But we have all trusted when we “should’ve known better.” To shame someone else for doing the same thing is, at the very least, hypocritical. More realistically, it is a knife stabbed straight through the victim’s heart.
So, please, let us stop putting the blame on the victims. Let us start putting it back where it belongs - on the perpetrators who thrive on the harassment, degradation, and humiliation of their victims. Then, victims can turn boldly, without fear, to their betrayer and rightfully say, “You should’ve known better.”