Revenge pornography: Do you know what it is?

It’s 2015.

Why is victim-blaming still happening?

Last fall, I attended a Women Abuse Prevention event hosted by multiple community services for women. They included agencies such as the John Howard Society, Girls INC., the Durham Rape Crisis Centre and more. The evening was spent discussing women abuse, violence against women and also the recovery and survival of victims from these situations.

Devorah Garland, from the AIDS Committee of Durham Region, said Canada’s rape culture is currently “thriving,” and with recent media attention on cases such as Retaeh Parsons, and last fall’s CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi sex scandal, this wasn’t hard to believe.

But it seems as though there are many sub-problems within the issue of sexual assault of women.

A problem that isn’t new, and has been happening far too often, to many young women.

It is the crime of revenge pornography or also known as non-consensual pornography. This is the distribution of nude/intimate photos without the consent of the subject. According to, an organization dedicated to spreading word about non-consensual pornography, 83 per cent of intimate photos originate as “selfies,” meaning victims take photos of themselves.

We know it’s happening, we have all heard of some form of revenge pornography, but for some reason this type of assault doesn’t seem to be taken seriously.


Because usually the victim shares these private photos “willingly,” usually with a person they are in a relationship with.

A 2013 American study conducted by McAfee (an online security service associated with Intel Security) found that 13 per cent of adults surveyed had private photos of themselves leaked online without their consent. But the study also found that one in ten ex-partners threatened to expose photos of their former lover’s photos without their consent.

More than half the time, those threats were carried out.

Although this study was American, Canada has seen several “revenge porn cases”.

Last fall, Anisa Salmi, a 27-year-old model from British Columbia found nude photos of herself on the infamous site, They were posted by an ex-partner. Salmi said the worst part was reading the crude comments people had posted about her on the photo.

And that is the most dangerous part about revenge pornography.

It can follow victims everywhere.

It can affect their professional and social life for years. In Salmi’s case, a friend informed her that there were photos of Salmi online. She immediately went to police but they weren’t helpful because she had shared the photos.

She never intended for other people to see them!

There are laws in Canada against cyber-bullying, which some revenge pornography victims can be protected against, but it does not protect a large portion of victims.

The law only protects victims if the photos are stolen from them, not if they actually share the photos themselves.

This is where victim blaming starts to form. Most victims do not want a public distribution of their photos, so why is it that they have to pay the price while their guilty ex-partners have nothing happen to them?

We already know society’s perception of victims of rape, sexual assault and harassment need to change. This isn’t new. I think most of us would settle for baby-steps at this point. The new sex-education curriculum in Ontario, which includes consent, is a great start – to some – but there is still a long road ahead.