A quick guide on sexual image based abuse
RIGHTS. REPORTS. SUPPORTS.
In 2017, 4% of crimes reported to the police were acts of non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Non-consensual distribution of intimate images is a serious matter and it’s important to understand your rights, supports and report options. And, we think this number is growing. You may know the term as revenge porn, sexual image based abuse, non-consensual porn, whatever it is called… it is not okay. It is a crime. You have a choice to report it, and survivors have the right to support without blame and judgement.
The non-consensual distribution of intimate images (including videos) can occur in various situations involving adults and youth, including relationship breakdown and cyberbullying. During the relationship, the partners may exchange or take intimate photos of themselves for their personal use, but when the relationship breaks down, one of the former partners may provide/distribute the intimate images to the other partners’ family, friends, employers etc., or may post such images on the Internet, in order to seek revenge on their former partner
People in Canada have a number of legal rights that are set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This includes the right to equal treatment no matter your race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age or physical or mental disability. Even though it may not be written in formal law, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE LISTENED TO AND BELIEVED. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT BY OTHERS. It does not matter who you are, how old you are, or the colour of your skin or your gender identity.
You may decide that you do not always want to assert, or declare your rights, and that is fine. However, it is important to know what your rights are. When you know your rights, you can decide when, how and if you want to speak up about them. YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME if someone is any way abusive or disrespects your rights.
Is it illegal for someone to share my intimate images without my consent if I’m under the age of 18? Yes.
Under the criminal code section 163, if you are under the age of 18, it’s considered child pornography.
Can I be prosecuted for distributing someone’s private images even if they are over the age of 18? Yes.
If you or someone you know has or is thinking about distributing someone’s private images without their consent, it’s considered a publication,etc., of an intimate image without consent under section 162 and you can be prosecuted for it.
If you or someone you know has been affected by Online Violence or your private images were distributed or shared without your consent, understand that it is a crime!
Can I report someone pretending to be me or someone who creates fake accounts of me by using my private photos? Yes.
Under the Criminal code of Canada section 403, it’s considered identity fraud and those who commit this offence can be prosecuted. If you found fake accounts or know there are profiles pretending to be you, understand that it is a crime and you do have the option of reporting it.
I sent the photo, is it my fault that it was shared? No.
It’s easy to feel ashamed or embarrassed after an incident but remember it’s not your fault.
You may have sent the photo but it was under your consent and you have every right to take back that consent at any time.
For more information on support, check out the links below:
Where can I go if I feel anxious and triggered?
There are many steps you can take after finding out your images were distributed. There is more support and healing around online violence now than ever before.
Love is respect
Kids Help Phone
Youth space Canada
Where can I find support if I can’t talk about this to my parents or peers?
It is hard to have some conversations with people who are closest to us, it could be because of culture, because we don’t want to share the details of what happened, or the platforms you were using. Here are links to some helplines and resources that you can reach out to anonymously for support via talk or text:
Assaulted Women’s Help Line
Love is respect
Kids Help Phone
Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centre
There are a number of ways to report. You can choose to go through all the steps or only the ones you are comfortable with. This could mean making a report to the company, to the police or to your support network. Reporting can be challenging and stressful, so it’s important to do what’s best for you.
How do I report a post or intimate photo of me on a social media?
Most major social media platforms and apps provide options for you to report an incident whether it is harassment or an image shared without your consent. Check out the Online Removal Guide and follow the steps according to the post you want removed : https://www.cybercivilrights.org/online-removal/
It will take some time for the report to be processed it varies based the platform. While you wait, make sure to take any screen shots or gather evidence as in some cases when the item is removed you may not have access to it, unless through more extensive process.
How do I report it to police?
You can contact your local police station, or the RCMP at their non-emergency phone lines and make a report of the intimate image distribution. It will be helpful as you move forward with a report, to document what happened and collect any evidence. Take screenshots of posts, messages, texts and other conversations of harassment, threats, and images.
If you or the survivor is under 18 you can make also report here: https://www.cybertip.ca/app/en/report-types.