The History of Revenge Porn

Revenge porn results when sexually explicit media contents such as pictures or videos of a person are shared in a public forum like magazines or more popularly and more recently, websites and blogs in the realm of social media.

The sensitive material is usually published without the consent of the individual involved.  Or shall we say, the victim. These images range from photos or video footage of intimate sexual acts intended for private consumption between participants and never intended for the public.

More sinisterly, covert recordings of sex acts may be captured without the victim’s knowledge.  Sometimes the material is derived from naked selfies accompanied by personal including their names, contacts and social media profile links.  A fake social media profile is often created to accompany this.  There are also dedicated Revenge Porn sites, controversially acting as a portal for the publication of the material, to the distress of the person in the photo. is often The electronic form of sharing this can even be more viral and far-reaching than the offline mode.

The covertly captured images apart, the compromising photos and footage have normally been generated in an atmosphere of trust until things go awry in the union.  Initiator of revenge porn are usually ex-partners of the victim displeased at the outcome of the relationship or some other grievance  and decides to get even by posting photos depicting private sex acts or explicit selfies of the partner, hence the word revenge.

There is an increasing rate of cases of revenge porn being reported.  It is statistically proven that 10% of ex-partners have threatened that they would expose naked selfies of their ex online.  Among those who threatened, 60% actually followed through on their threats. The devastated victims are 90% women and 10% men. And 93% of them have suffered significant emotional distress and evidence of post traumatic stress syndrome as a result.

This damaging menace is not new but the prevalence has soared over recent years along with proliferation of the Internet and social media. The history of Revenge Porn dates back to the 1980's when a magazine called Hustler began to feature photos of naked women called “Beaver Hunt”. The photos were supposed to be submitted by the readers.  It soon became clear that not all the women who featured in Beaver Hunt actually knew about the submission nor consented to it. For example, Hustler published a stolen photo of an unknown woman taken by her husband during a picnic. It was neither with the woman’s foreknowledge nor consent.

In 2000, a researcher from Italy, Sergio Messina, identified an emergent genre he called ‘real core pornography’ – images and videos of ex-girlfriends initially shared in Usenet groups.  In 2008, XTube; an amateur porn aggregator began to receive complaints that some of the contents published were without the consent of those featured. Soon, websites dedicated to the genre began to spring up with explicit photos to resemble revenge porn, as well as hosting ‘real’ user-submitted naked selfies.

Hunter Moore’s website, ‘is anyone up’ launched in 2010, gave revenge porn international exposure, and him the label of the most hated man on the Internet. Over time, we have had activists like Charlotte Laws aka the Erin Brockovich of Revenge Porn, and Holly Jacobs fighting hard to end revenge porn.

Never under-estimate the impact on the victims of being exposed in this way to friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues, amongst whom they suffer loss of face. The results can be emotional problems like depression, to tangible consequences like career downturn.  Suicide attempts are not uncommon.  Tyler Clementi, for example, killed himself after webcam footage of him having sex and outing him as gay was distributed.  The more fortunate ones have fronted the darkness and humiliation to fight back and become activists against the menace.

Emma Holten, for example, woke up one day to discover that her Facebook account had been flooded with hundreds of messages and notifications on her leaked naked selfies. The pictures were leaked by her ex-boyfriend. In her own words ‘We need to have this discussion now. It is urgent. People are killing themselves and being ostracized from their communities…’

Another notable victim is Ann Marie Chiarini whose ex-partner auctioned off a CD of 88 naked images of her on eBay and sent the links to her friends, families and to people at her college where she taught. It was a devastating period. She sank into despair, ostracized herself, and almost lost her job. But in the midst of all that, she managed to rediscover herself and stand tall.  She has since started a massive and effective move against revenge porn. In her words also, ‘… I have embraced my role as the voice for those who have not yet found their voices. And I will speak up’.

Another Revenge Porn survivor is Folami Prehaye, one of the first to receive some form of justice and vindication when her ex-partner created a fake Facebook profile of her, sent invitation to her closest friends and family, and then uploaded intimate images taken by the couple during their time together.  Her ex received a 6 month suspended prison sentence for his act of revenge.  Folami founded VOIC, Victims of Internet Crime, to “help people who have experienced the hatefulness of revenge to share their experiences and  have a platform to gain advice and support”.  

There was a time when police would shrug and say there was nothing that could be done about the illegal publication of explicit photos for malicious purposes.  Revenge Porn is now a criminal offence in England and Wales recognising the effects Revenge Porn can have on its victim.  The convicted can now receive up to 2 years imprisonment.

Victims of Revenge Porn suffer greatly from a sense of isolation, anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia and require counselling and therapy, including hypnotherapy.

UK TV channel 4 explores Revenge Porn

Author's Bio: 

Jimi Sayo is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, a Neuro Linguistic Practitioner (NLP) and a Certified Havening Practitioner  in Streatham Hill, South London.  She specialises in anxiety, PTSD, Weight Loss amongst women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Stop Smoking, Phobia Cures, etc.

In a former life, Jimi worked as a Press and Public Relations Officer in various Civil Service and Local Government departments, including the Metropolitan Police Service, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Corporation of London.  

Jimi has an MBA in Digital Technology Management from the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration in Finland and has been a presenter of The Get Healthy show on Croydon Radio, and chaired a discussion panel on the Real Women Show for Croydon TV.