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Revenge porn and the law

By Jennie Wilson - posted Friday, 1 April 2016

Wikepedia defines Revenge Porn as the "sexually explicit portrayal of one or more people distributed without their consent via any medium". Revenge Porn is a form of abuse, and with the digital age that we live in, has become another form where domestic violence can occur. Typically, the perpetrator will distribute the information to humiliate blackmail, intimidate, or coerce the victim.

For the purpose of this article, I will reference "male perpetrator" and "female victim", whilst acknowledging that men are the victims of domestic violence as well - women are statistically overrepresented when it comes to intimate partner violence offences. In referencing "male perpetrator" and "female victim" the article is not excluding the fact that men are victims, and females are perpetrators as well.

The "Revenge" refers to the uploading of the material after a relationship has ended – with the intent of causing emotional and psychological harm to the female victim.


Revenge Porn has become a concerning social media issue. The flow on effects can filter in to the personal and working life of the female victim, and some victims have lost their job over the flow on from Revenge Porn. There have been reported instances of suicides after incidences of Revenge Porn.

There are overseas countries which have passed on legislation in relation to Revenge Porn, such as Germany and the United Kingdom; but on our own home turf we have been a little slower to implement these safeguards.

Israel has been recognised as a forward thinking nation in terms of its legislation surrounding Revenge Porn. In Israel the crime of sharing sexually explicit videos without consent is punishable by up to five years in prison. Israel made these legislative changes in 2014.

Last year, Labor MP'S Terri Butler and Tim Watts introduced a private members bill to criminalise the distribution of sexually explicit images of an ex-partner without their consent.

A Senate Committee has made eight recommendations on how to criminalize this Revenge Porn. The Committee has also recommended that that the crime becomes a federal crime, and there should be a national response to the crime.

This is an ever increasing area of concern surrounding domestic violence. There needs to be movement in relation to the actions of the federal and state governments, as women are vulnerable and exposed where there is a gap in legislation to protect them against such acts. The control and humiliation that accompanies the Revenge Porn, can have devastating effects on the victims.


The Victorian and South Australian governments have moved to criminalise Revenge Porn, and there needs to be a movement on the federal level. While there may be legislation under the Crimes Act or Summary Offences Act in relation to the distribution of material– there needs to be specific laws tailored to Revenge Porn. Revenge Porn is a unique cyber crime that goes beyond the misuse of the internet – the notion of Revenge Porn is to cause harm to another person. The intention of the offender is to "seek revenge" through various social mediums. There is no "mistake" in sharing sexually implicit images of another person without their consent. There is no "mistake" in humiliating/blackmailing/coercing a victim through this sharing of images. There is no "mistake" that consent was not provided for the images to be shared by the victim.

To have sexually explicit images of yourself, and your body, shared via text, or email; or distributed online – is not only a serious invasion of privacy; it is devastating.

Interestingly Microsoft and Google have implemented policies that assist victims to remove links to sexually explicit images of them posted without their consent, and mediums such as Facebook and Twitter ban revenge posts.

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About the Author

Jennie Wilson has a Bachelor of Social Science (Justice Studies) and worked as a police officer for ten years. She currently works for a non-government organisaton in relation to advocating for domestic violence victims.

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