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Did You Know This Is Sexual Abuse?

by | Abuse Literacy

Did You Know This Is Sexual Abuse?

Has your image been shared, uploaded, altered, or sold without your consent?

This is sexual abuse and Christen Price from NCOSE is on the BTR.ORG podcast with Anne to let victims know what they can do to begin seeking safety.

Tune in to the free BTR.ORG podcast and read the full transcript below for more.

Visit endsexualexploitation.org and call the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Hotline 844-878-2274.

You Deserve Sexual Safety

Many women in the BTR.ORG community have experienced a lack of sexual safety when their husbands and partners have taken and shared images of them without their consent.

Correctly labeling this abusive behavior is an important step in seeking safety.

Christen Price from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has explained the intense effects of the trauma of Image-Based Sexual Abuse here.

If you have experienced sexual exploitation, know that you deserve safety.

Get to safety now. There is a very peaceful and safe life that you deserve that is possible to have now.

Anne Blythe, Founder of BTR.ORG

Use These Resources To Seek Safety From Sexual Exploitation

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) understands the gravity of this form of sexual exploitation and abuse. Here are some resources available to you to seek help:

BTR.ORG Is Here For You

At BTR.ORG, we know how painful it is to not only deal with the trauma of sexual exploitation, but also the devastation of betrayal trauma.

Your safety – emotional, physical, and sexual, is our priority. Please access our BTR.ORG Group Sessions and find a community that loves and accepts you as you are right now. You deserve it.

Full Transcript:

Anne (00:00):
Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne. Christen Price from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation is back on today’s episode. She was with us last week, so if you didn’t listen to last week’s episode, go back and listen there and then join us here. We are just gonna jump right in. So this past spring, the federal government passed a new law against revenge pornography. Can you tell us about that?

Christen (04:11):
Yes. It’s a law that provides basically victims of right to sue for content that is non consensually distributed. If the person who disclosed it knew or recklessly disregarded the depicted person’s lack of consent. So when it allows people to sue for damages, it allows them to potentially get a temporary restraining order or an injunction, basically ordering the perpetrator to stop displaying or disclosing the image. And there are some exceptions that I think are a bit concerning to who can bring an action under this new law. So basically there’s an exception called “matters of public concern or interest” that’s in my view, very, very vague and appears to exclude any possible cause of action if something is deemed to fall within that category. And you know, my perspective on that is that famous or well-known women shouldn’t be public sexual property either.

Does This New Law Cover All The Bases?

(05:14):
And it doesn’t really address the rights of a person. If someone who was not well known or there was no public interest was appearing in content alongside someone who was, that’s one exception that raises a flag for me. And then there’s another exception related to commercial pornographic content basically means content with people who appear to be under 30. If it is not produced by force fraud, misrepresentation, or coercion, that kind of content would also be accepted. So in some ways it means that the websites most likely to be exempt are the ones who are most likely to have people under 30 exploiting younger people. And it also exempts the websites and people who are most likely to be profiting from the display of the content. So like if someone ran his own pornography website with younger looking people, he couldn’t be sued by his wife or ex-girlfriend for non consensually posting her images on it as long as she wasn’t, you know, coerced to make the video in the first place. So to me, these are, these are exceptions that are very worrisome and ultimately I think make the law really incomplete. But I, I definitely think it can be useful, you know, for some victims to have legal recourse.

What Does “Consent” Actually Mean?

Anne (06:31):
When you say consent, like that word is just fraught in our community because women are giving their consent to get married, for example, they’re giving their consent to be in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean they give their consent to be abused, right? So when you say, yeah, they consented to be in porn, but they’re not consenting to be manipulated or gaslit or you know, some of the other things. But is this like a he-said, she-said when it comes to this law or if they don’t have like a written sort of document where they’ve signed something, is the consent issue very clear when it comes to this law? Or does it get caught in the same kind of rape/domestic violence problems that we have where you can’t ever prove that you didn’t do it?

Christen (07:16):
It’s a really good question and I think it’s hard to say right now because no one has really tried to use the law yet. And I think a lot will depend on how it’s interpreted, how judges interpret it, how it’s actually used. I would say that this kind of law aside, it’s worth noting that in the federal sex trafficking law, which does cover pornography, the standard for whether something meets the definition of sex trafficking is whether it features a minor or was produced through force fraud or coercion. So in a sense, consent is arguably not really a defense. If by consent people mean agreement because you can be agreeing to something or you can be deceived into agreeing to something. And if either of those two things is present, then the crime is still committed. So I think it kind of remains to be seen if this specific law is gonna take kind of a similar view. It’s, it definitely seems to anticipate that people may produce content through coercion and deception and that that would be included in the law, but it wouldn’t necessarily let you sue a commercial website like PornHub, but it would let you sue the person who posted it. So they do seem to anticipate that coercion is possible in this context, but I think a lot will depend on how things end up being interpreted.

Trauma Mama Husband Drama

Anne (08:43):
I’m gonna take a break here for just a second to talk about my book Trauma Mama Husband Drama. You can find it on our books page which has a curated list of all of the books that we recommend. My book Trauma Mama Husband Drama is a picture book for adults. So it is the easiest way for you to explain what’s going on to someone who might not understand it. It’s also just a good reference for yourself because it shows what’s happening with very telling and emotional illustrations as well as infographics at the back.

“Reporting Is An Important Step”

(09:33):
Now we’ll get back to the interview. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about this. I know some of you listening are victims of this, like your own husband has posted things of you, or you’re a victim of revenge porn, you’re a victim of sexual abuse in this way.

(10:24):
Many of you I have talked to personally and you have been afraid to press charges. Number one, because you’re not sure if you want a divorce, you’re not sure if things are gonna work out with your husband, things like that. I want to encourage you to do something. The best hope for your husband not to be abusive is to actually stand in account for his crime, even if you think there’s some kind of chance that it will work out. I still think if he were to be truly changed, truly repentant, truly non-abusive, he would take accountability for those things that he is done. And so reporting it is an important step. So I know that reporting domestic violence and reporting things like this, especially if it is your husband or your boyfriend, is a safety issue. So I want to acknowledge that at the same time there are resources available and I’m really excited for Christen to be able to explain those to you.

Call This Crisis Line For Help

Christen (11:25):
Yes, one of the main resources that we recommend is the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. It’s specifically helpful for victims in the United States and they have a crisis help line and the number is 844-878-2274. I’ll give that again, it’s 844-878-2274. And you can talk with a counselor through that number 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also have an online removal guide which walks people through instructions for how to address content they found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Google, Snapchat, and other sites. And then they also have some international resources for people who are in Australia, Brazil, Israel, Palestine, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. So that’s our main recommendation is definitely to contact them. Listeners are also welcome to contact the NAI Law Center if they would like to do so. We do have a number of lawsuits addressing image-based sexual abuse, although at the moment almost all of them concern child sexual abuse victims, so people who are minors when their content was posted. We have lawsuits against PornHub, against X videos, against Twitter. You can find more information about this at sexualexploitationlawsuits.com and that’ll give you a sense for what we, what we do, what we work on.

Anne (12:54):
So for wives who care about this, many of our listeners actually might be victims that might not know it at all, which is super, super scary to think about. So listeners, if that’s you and you find out we are here for you, NACO is here for you, and the resources that she just talked about are here for you. Secondly, if you’re just a concerned woman who knows the harms of pornography due to your husband’s abuse and his involvement in it, and you want to help out, right? You want to advocate to make this world a safer place, you really need to check out NCOSE at endsexualexploitation.org. Kristen, can you talk to my listeners about what they can do to progress this movement towards safety for all women?

“The First Thing a Regular Person Can Do, Especially Men and Boys, Is to Not Consume The Abuse (Pornography)”

Christen (13:57):
So I mean, speaking broadly, and this may not apply as much to your listeners, but there’s a market for this kind of content on PornHub and EXP videos and all these other sites and markets are driven by demand. So the first thing a regular person can do, especially men and boys, is to not consume the abuse. This is a very profitable industry and it’s driven by the fact that people want to see this stuff. I would also say if you’re in one of the two states, Massachusetts or South Carolina that currently doesn’t have a law against this type of content, then definitely advocate with your local leaders for such a law. I believe Massachusetts House actually passed one last month, but hasn’t been passed by the Senate or signed by the governor. And then I think there’s a real need to educate boys and men in the general public about this issue in a way that puts the responsibility for it where it belongs.

(14:56):
I think that in many ways as a society, the way that we talk about sexual assault has changed for the better. We’re not just telling women to watch out or blame them for not fighting back. You know, we really recognize more that it’s on men not to perpetrate. And I think the same thing applies with this issue. We can’t just be telling women and girls, you know, to watch out or to be more careful. We need to teach men and boys not to perpetrate. And I think part of the importance of this abuse framing is doing that. It’s calling this thing by its right name, calling it by the term that shows how serious the wrong is, how serious the human rights abuse is. And I think that’s a big part of what any person can do with really any type of gendered violence or abuse, is to call the thing by its right mean. Like so often men’s violence against women, men’s abuse of women and girls is disappeared by the way that we talk about it or the fact that we don’t talk about it. So I think that’s a big thing that any person can do.

“Learn How To Get Safety For Yourself”

Anne (15:58):
I really appreciate that. It reminds me of the Jackson Katz’s quote. I’m gonna paraphrase it, but maybe I’ll put it on the website, but it’s like we talk about how many women were raped last year, not how many men raped women, right? And just reframing that for our listeners, since they’re not men and boys. The number one thing you can do is get to safety in your own home. The number one thing you can do is learn how to set boundaries. Learn how to get to safety yourself and learn how to make sure that your own home is safe. That’s number one. When your own home is safe, the number two thing you can do. If you wanna get involved, check out the NCOSE website endsexualexploitation.org. They have a lot of campaigns there. You can get on their email list, I’m on their email list.

“I Am Much More Effective In Making the World a Safer Place When My Own Home is Safe”

(16:49):
I love it when I get their emails, things like, you know, sign this petition or send an email to your senator and then give like a template of things that you can do. So at the very least, that gives you some scaffolding to start making some progress. If you want to do something, but you don’t know where to start, the NCOSE website and they have a summit every year, and getting involved that way is a really good way to start making change in the world. But I do wanna say, for me personally, when I was in my abusive relationship, I was so focused on pornography addiction, recovery. I didn’t understand it was abuse. So I went down the wrong road for a while. And also I was really involved in the anti-pornography movement, which was awesome and I loved it, but I was spending a lot of time trying to solve the world’s problems and not able at that time to actually get to safety myself.

(17:44):
And I have found that I am much more effective in making the world a safer place when my own home is safe. And it’s impossible to make the world a safer place so that your home will be safe. Like it’s much easier to make your home safe first and then help the world than the other way around. You can actually literally within a few years, three to six years, actually make your home a safe place. It takes a long time. It’s hard to learn boundaries. It’s hard to learn these skills, but it is possible the fight and exploitation that we are all involved in, it’s like a worldwide battle that is going to take a long time. And so don’t wait for that. Don’t think, okay, well when the US passes a law that porns illegal and my husband can’t watch it anymore, then I’ll be safe.

(18:34):
Like, please do not wait for that. Get to safety now. There is a very peaceful and safe life that you deserve that is possible to have now even if pornography exists. And I just wanna hit home that like even if it exists, you can still have a healthy relationship and you can still have a peaceful home if the person that you’re married to is not abusive. So just some final thoughts for me. That’s like my rant, Christen; I told you I often go on a rant. There’s one. Do you have any final thoughts that you wanna share?

Identify Pornography As Systemic Abuse

Christen (19:10):
I think one final thing from me, it’s just a broader point that I think reflects some of the things that we’ve talked about with respect to naming this as abuse. I think the way that people often perceive pornography can follow this pattern of the way that the invisibility of various forms of violence and abuse against women are invisible. Um, whether the abuser is a pimp, a husband, a boss, or film producer, the violence and abuse are not seen as political, not seen as systemic as an attack against women as a class. And I think it’s really important that we identify this as the sort of systemic thing that it is because it’s really quite incompatible with gender equality in a society.

Anne (19:58):
I could not agree more. Thank you for saying that. It is systemic because when our listeners try to get out, right? They go to a therapist, they go to clergy, and they get answers back like, oh, it’s a communication issue, or, oh, you’re just not having enough sex. Or they don’t get, oh, he’s abusive. I went to therapy for seven years with an emotional and psychological abuser who was also sexually coercing me. I did pornography addiction recovery for seven years. No one told me I was being abused. That is insane. I go to a church that has on the books doctrine and policy that no abuse will be tolerated. And all of my clergy were like, oh, he’s such a good guy. Like they did not know it was abuse. I didn’t know it was abuse. And so because of that misunderstanding and not labeling it for what it is, women are continually being harmed and men are continually abusing with impunity.

Support the BTR.ORG Podcast

(20:58):
And it is absolutely systemic and it is dangerous not just for women, but it’s also dangerous for men because they can’t have a healthy relationship or have a peaceful, healthy life if they’re abusive, right? So the answer for everyone is healthy, non-abusive interactions with other people and non exploitative interactions. So thank you for all of your work at NCOSE. NCOSE is amazing. Again, I cannot stress enough how important their work is. Please visit their website, endsexualexploitation.org. Christen, thank you so much for coming on today’s episode. Thank you so much for having me. If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. And until next week, stay safe out there.

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