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Revenge porn and virtual worlds: Digital defenses

Revenge porn allegations can get you into deep trouble. The people around you may be concerned that you actually committed this crime, straining your social circle. Or, your family may be the center of scrutiny, disrupting your family life. What is revenge porn, though, and why is it such a big deal?

Revenge porn itself is when a person takes nude photographs given to them while in a relationship and uses them as blackmail. They may post the images online where employers could see them, or they could use them to disrupt a person's social life. This isn't the only kind of sexual abuse that happens online, and some don't ever involve physical contact.

Sexual assaults range in severity, from using social media to spread an image like above to struggling with sexual assault or abuse in a virtual setting. One woman playing a game online reported that another player, who had discovered she was female, sexually assaulted her character. Is it the same as having her real image or real body attacked? No, but it does point out the same issues. Abusing another person's body, whether it's through virtual means or by spreading images online, is an abusive act that seeks to control a victim.

The video game industry believes it needs to have industry standards to stand up to this kind of assault, even though it's not happening in real life. Social media platforms already have similar standards in their terms of service that allow users to report sexual or inappropriate images.

If you're accused of harassing someone sexually online or being involved in a revenge porn case, defend yourself. It's important not to admit to doing anything you didn't do; you have options and the right to fight back.

Source: CNN, "She's been sexually assaulted 3 times--once in virtual reality," Sara Ashley O'Brien, accessed March 15, 2017

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