SPARTANBURG, S.C. –
They’re meant to be private pictures for one set of eyes, but some of those pictures end up in the hands of thousands. It’s called ‘revenge porn’ when an ex takes those personal photos and posts them online.
Local lawmakers say it’s becoming a growing problem and now many states are taking action to criminalize revenge porn. State by state, lawmakers are fighting to make it illegal for someone to post graphic, sexual pictures online with the intention of hurting or embarrassing someone.
In 2014, Georgia criminalized revenge porn. On Tuesday, North Carolina took the first steps in doing the same. The House voted to make the act of sharing these types of graphic, private images illegal.
If passed, the crime will become a felony. A judge would have the option of making the offender serve jail time and victims would also be able to sue for damages.
“You think those pictures are between you and that one other person but it turns out that’s not the case,” said college student Samantha Romain.
People we talked to say the victims they know are usually women. Some of them have lost their jobs, new relationships, and their self-esteem.
Lauren Sorrell shared her own family member faced the embarrassment.
“She didn’t actually send the picture. She was unaware because it was taken while she was sleeping. She was naked,” said Sorrell.
After the bad breakup, her family member’s ex decided to share the image for revenge — posting it to Facebook.
But revenge porn isn’t just exchanged by texts or social media. There are several sites which are completely dedicated to exposing and shaming unsuspecting exes.
“I think it’s pretty gross to think there’s someone out there who is nasty enough to actually feel really insecure about themselves that after a breakup, they feel the need to put something like that on the internet for everyone to see,” said college student Brittany Paris.
In a few states, like South Carolina, without any pending or passed laws, the websites that host these images are protected. Astonishingly, posting these images, even without permission, isn’t always legal.
“It’s nasty and I think a lot of attention needs to be brought to it,” said Paris.
More than ten states have specific laws already criminalizing revenge porn. More than half have some sort of pending legislation.