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Beyond Sexting: Digital Domestic Violence

A couple months ago you may have read our blog series, Sexting 101.The blog series helped shed some light on the risk of sexting and I couldn't help but think "What if that was me?". A flash goes through my mind of all of the times I had shared my images with both people I knew and didn't know, without even thinking of the consequences. Luckily for me, or at least, that I know of, these images have not been shared beyond their intended recipient.

For many others who might not be so lucky, "Revenge Porn", Cyber Bullying or Digital Domestic Violence is a scary and sobering truth. Darieth Chisolm is one such person who suddenly discovered that her ex-boyfriend had taken private photos of her and made a website. In her case, these weren't even sexted pictures but were taken of her naked body while she was asleep and taken without her consent. So you can imagine her surprise when she received a call from a friend letting her know that there was this website and it had her images on it. Like many other who are cyber bullied, it started with threatening texts and compromising videos being sent to her phone trying to make her feel ashamed and when an abuser "can't physically put their hands on you they use digital means".

According to Darieth, Digital Domestic Violence affects approximately 1 in 25 women and if you are under the age of 30 that number increases to 1 in 10. For many of the women (and I'm sure men) that are affected by this experience potential job loss, damaged reputations and even mental and physical health issues. Here are some other statistics from Darieth's website 50 Shades of Silence that stood out to me:

  • 90% of reported "revenge porn" targets are women
  • One in 10 intimate partners threaten an ex with non-consensual sharing of sexual images
  • 51% of women who are the victums of Digital Domestic Violence have considered suicide
  • 25% of young women have been sexually harassed online, compared to 13% of young men
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens experience almost three times as much bullying and harassment online as their straight and cisgender peers. Forty-two percent of LGBTQ youth report being bullied or harassed online versus 15% of non-LGTB peers
  • LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to be bullied via text message
  • 32% of LGBT youth, almost four times the percentage of non-LGBT youth, report being sexually harassed online (8%)

For many I'm sure it is difficult to come forward to talk about this type of cyber bullying. Even harder still, without the proper laws and protections, is finding justice and having the images removed. People like Darieth Chislom are speaking up and using their voice to draw awareness to the issues and make change. As the world of technology changes around us so to must the laws, and the rights that protect us in a digital space. As new ways of interacting and connecting with the world around us continue to emerge, it is important to know the risks, and take steps to protect yourself the best you can.

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