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I’m The First New Yorker To Ever Press Charges For Revenge Porn

Art via Diana Pietrzyk.

I’m Dr. Spring Cooper, I’m the first New York woman to ever press charges for revenge porn, and this is my story.

 Dozens of sexual images, gifs, and videos were posted of me — my face, name, and contact details included — on various social Internet platforms. The collection of images was made up of shots that only my ex had. Each time a new set of images was uploaded, I would have several men contact me and harass me. My phone became something I dreaded looking at: I was afraid to see the notifications when I woke up in the morning; I was afraid to view new friend and message requests; I was terrified to see what new assault had been launched upon me. I pressed charges, and I’m ready to share my experience. 

Salty:  How did you go about pressing charges?

Pressing charges was pretty easy, but not a fun experience. I reported it to the police each time a new image/gif/video was posted that hadn’t been posted before (since if it had been posted before, there was no way to know who had re-posted it). I made reports to the police by going to my local station or by calling them to come to my house. I began to do this with a friend present since some of the police made me uncomfortable with their comments and assumptions related to this crime.

Image via @dianapietrzyk

 

My phone became something I dreaded looking at. I was afraid to see the notifications when I woke up in the morning.

Salty: Tell us about your court experiences to date.

Depending on which court it was, I may or may not have had to be present. I have not yet been called to any criminal proceedings, and the civil proceedings have not yet started. However, my case had some family court proceedings that I’ve attended. In these sessions, I am forced to face my perpetrator, which is terrifying. I have brought support systems with me to proceedings, and I have made mantra loops that I play in my headphones on the way to them to try to keep me calm.  

Salty: What’s the outcome so far?

Our legal system moves slower than the NYC subway system on the weekends. There are sometimes six months between court dates. I have no idea when I will expect to actually know the outcome of my cases.

Our legal system moves slower than the NYC subway system on the weekends. There are sometimes six months between court dates.

Salty: What are the costs associated with pressing these kinds of charges?

There is no cost for a victim to press criminal charges. A district attorney will be assigned to your case, and you will meet with them to help them understand the case. If you want to press any charges in family court (for example, if you requested an order of protection before you filed criminal charges), you can represent yourself or hire a lawyer. If you want to press civil charges, you’ll need to hire an attorney. However, there are several systems that may be able to help individuals with finding an attorney if you don’t have the resources.

Salty: What outcome do you hope to see come out of all of this?

The reason I pressed civil charges is because I also wanted to sue Tumblr. Tumblr does several things that actually perpetuate revenge porn. I am suing them to make changes to their platform and how they handle reported content on their platform. I want to do everything I can to prevent others from being a victim of revenge porn.

I hope the publicity of my case helps to highlight that revenge porn is a crime. It is the cyber form of sexual assault, and research shows us that the effects on victims are similar to sexual assaults that occur in the “real” world. It is not ok to do anything sexual without the consent of another person, and there is no way the victim is at blame. Just as we need to stop victim blaming in sexual assault cases, we need to stop victim blaming in revenge porn cases. There is nothing wrong with sharing intimate images or videos with someone you trust. You should never expect someone to assault you. My favorite analogy is: we do not tell people not to own things because they might get robbed.  

There is nothing wrong with sharing intimate images or videos with someone you trust. You should never expect someone to assault you. My favorite analogy is: we do not tell people not to own things because they might get robbed.  

Salty: Would you personally recommend taking legal recourse?

I think it is very important to press criminal charges. File a police report, it makes it clear to all of the people committing this crime that it is not ok. It sends a message that there is recourse to online actions. And it may prevent your perpetrator from doing this to someone else in the future. Or, if they do commit the crime again, they are more likely to receive an appropriate sentence.  

Image via @dianapietrzyk.

Salty: Do you have any resources you’d recommend?

If you have been a victim of revenge porn, reach out to The Civil Rights Initiative and the [email protected]@SS group on Facebook. They are both very helpful in directing and supporting victims.  

Salty wants you to be informed.

Learn about the Revenge Porn Or Non-Consensual Pornography Laws in your state:

https://www.cybercivilrights.org/revenge-porn-laws/

http://kellywarnerlaw.com/revenge-porn-laws-50-state-guide/

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