How Revenge Porn May Impact Your Divorce

Revenge Porn & Divorce

Revenge porn is the act of sharing an intimate, sexual photo of someone without their consent, and believe it or not, it can become a significant issue in divorce matters. Although 90% of revenge porn victims are women, this form of cyber sexual abuse can affect people of all genders and backgrounds. How so? According to a study by the Civil Rights Initiative:

  • 51% of victims of Revenge Porn/NCP have had suicidal thoughts due to being victimized.
  • 83% of revenge porn victims said they had taken nude photos/videos of themselves and shared them with someone else.
  • 93% of victims said they have suffered significant emotional distress due to being a victim.
  • 82% said they suffered significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning due to being a victim.
  • 42% sought out psychological services due to being a victim.

As you can see, the impacts of revenge porn are detrimental. In 2019, the New York state legislature passed Penal Law § 245.15, which criminalizes the publication or dissemination of an intimate image, also known as revenge porn. The penalty upon conviction would be up to one year in jail and civil damages for abusers. But besides criminal consequences, revenge porn can have unfavorable outcomes in a divorce, as it can affect restraining orders, child custody/support, and more. To give you a better idea of this, revenge porn is frequently associated with the following crimes, according to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative:

  • Domestic violence: Revenge porn can be used as an abusive tactic of power and control in a domestic violence situation. Many people who are controlling and abusive during a relationship are also aggressive and destructive after a relationship. Revenge porn images or videos may have been originally created within the context of an abusive relationship as a result of coercion by the abuser.
  • Sexual assault: Revenge porn images or videos may document a sexual assault or its aftermath.
  • Harassment, stalking, and cyberstalking: Many Revenge porn offenders harass victims through unwelcome texts, emails, phone calls, letters, visits to the victim’s home or workplace, contact with the victim’s friends, family, or colleagues, etc. The offender’s persistent conduct online and/or offline may cause the victim to fear for their safety.

A judge may look at a report of revenge porn and determine that the reported abuser should not have child custody rights, as it would not be in the child’s best interests. So, your chances of getting full custody would increase if a judge found that your spouse committed revenge porn against you, and the chances would decrease if you were found to have committed revenge porn against your spouse.

Another way revenge porn impacts divorce is in restraining orders. Spouses typically file for restraining orders when they experience safety issues, such as domestic violence, heated arguments, and harassment. As we discussed above, revenge porn can be used as a form of domestic violence, so accordingly, a spouse can file a restraining order against their abusive partner. As a result, a judge may see the restraining order as another reason to grant full custody to the non-abusive spouse.

With this in mind, we list some tips from the New York Attorney General below to help you avoid falling victim to revenge porn.

  • Do not include identifying details in any intimate image or chat.
    • Exclude your face and any identifying features, such as a unique tattoo or birthmark, in intimate images. Some users can keep their faces off-screen in such images, while others can utilize a blurring or cropping feature.
    • Exclude identifiable information in your image’s background, including anything with your name or your employer’s name or logo on it.
    • Exclude identifiable information from your profile, such as your email address or the handles to different social media accounts. Some users even create separate email addresses or social media accounts to use only with dating profiles.
  • Use dating apps or websites that have safety features. While these features cannot prevent a recipient from recording the screen with a second device, they do offer some protection, including:
    • Providing warnings that notify you if a recipient has taken a screenshot of an image you shared or of your chat history.
    • An “unsend” option for pictures or messages.
    • The ability to delete images or chats from a recipient’s messages.

Are You a Victim or Accused of Revenge Porn?

Considering the life-altering impacts of revenge porn, it is not surprising that such an act can directly affect your divorce, whether you’re the victim or alleged aggressor. As you know, divorce can bring out the ugly sides of people and trigger severe tensions and aggressions between spouses. However, it is critical to protect yourself if you are a victim or accused of revenge porn during your divorce. You can lose substantial rights if you’re accused of revenge porn, but if you are a victim, you could gain much-needed legal protection and rights to your children, financial support, and more.

Whichever side of the matter you’re on, our Orange County divorce attorneys can help protect your rights and advocate for the best possible outcome in your family legal matter. To discuss your situation with us, contact our firm online or at (845) 605-4330!

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