How To Protect Yourself If Someone Tries To Release Your Intimate Photos

When phones started being made with cameras, things changed. No longer did you have to lug around a camera from which you had to upload photos to send to friends and family. Instead, you could take a picture with your phone and immediately send it to whomever you wanted. Of course, it didn't take long for people to realize that you could now send nudes in a matter of seconds. And taking and sending nudes can actually be a positive thing.

"I think particularly as women, we spend a lot of time experiencing ourselves through our reflection in someone else's gaze — we're always mirrored in someone else's eyes," psychologist Meghan Jablonski, Ph.D. tells Cosmopolitan. "In taking private nudes, our phone or computer screen establishes a safe distance that allows us to experience ourselves objectively with compassionate curiosity. The process is more intimate than looking directly in a mirror."

Not only is it good for self-esteem, but research has found that taking and sending nudes can be beneficial for relationships too. According to a study published in the American Psychological Association, researchers at Drexel University's Women's Health Psychology Lab found that sexting — whether it's sending nudes or dirty words — can lead to relationship satisfaction. But while there are benefits to taking and sending nudes because there are such intimate images, if they end up in the wrong hands, then you can have a serious problem.

What's revenge porn?

According to WebMD, revenge porn is "digital abuse" in which sexual photos and/or videos are shared without the consent of the person in the photos or videos. Although it's also called "nonconsensual pornography," the term revenge porn came about when bitter people started sharing intimate photos of their exes. In fact, in 2010, revenge porn found itself a home on Hunter Moore's website IsAnyoneUp. Although the site only existed for 16 months, it humiliated thousands of people whose sexually explicit photos ended up on the site, along with their names, where they worked, home addresses, as well as their social media accounts so as to take the humiliation and embarrassment to new heights.

But while Moore's site came down and he ended up going to jail, new revenge porn sites popped up like Anon-IB, which was the site that released nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence after her phone was hacked. According to findings by the National Association of Attorneys General, revenge porn is on the rise, with the percentage of victims increasing by 400% between 2016 and 2019. So while Moore, the self-proclaimed "king of revenge porn," may be out of the picture, the issue still exists.

How to protect yourself

Of course, the best way to protect yourself is not to take any photos of all, then you never have to worry about it. But if you love to take nudes and equally love to send them, then you need a plan to keep those pictures safe. "There is no perfect way to protect yourself, as images can be taken without your consent," licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson LPC-S, LMFT-S tells Elite Daily. "If you do choose to pose for photos, it could be a good idea to avoid having your face in the photos or other distinctive marks like tattoos."

You also want to make sure you know the person you're sending the nudes to very well and that you trust them implicitly, only use apps that have end-to-end encryption, like WhatsApp, don't share your passwords, and keep your phone locked at all times. However, if you do end up becoming a victim and someone is either threatening to release your intimate photos or already has, then the U.S. Federal Trade Commission suggests following the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative guide for removing the images that are online. They also suggest you look into your state laws surrounding revenge porn and, if necessary, contact a lawyer. Hopefully, once you say the word "lawyer," the threats will cease and those images will come down immediately.