What is it?  

Non-consensual photo sharing, “revenge porn”, or intimate image abuse are all names to describe the same act of posting or sharing intimate images of someone else without their consent. Consent is required for sexual activities in person, and online.  

Consent is person-specific, meaning that if someone consensually sends you an image you cannot send it to anyone else. Consent is also time-specific, therefore, if someone sends you an intimate image with a time restriction, like Snapchat, you cannot prolong that time period by screenshotting.  

Their consent needs to be freely given. This is where both partners have a true genuine choice which means that you cannot pressure, guilt, harass, manipulate, or coerce people into sending intimate photos. Furthermore, someone can take back their photo consent or change their mind after they sent the photo. If the photo sender requests you to delete an intimate photo of them you are obligated to do so.  

You cannot send someone an unsolicited intimate image of yourself. Consent needs to be a mutual agreement.  

Consent has age restrictions. Therefore, it is illegal for an adult to produce, access, distribute, or be in possession of intimate images of someone under the age of 18. If you suspect that a child or youth is being pressured or manipulated into sharing intimate images online, you can report this anonymously at Canada’s National Tip Line for Reporting the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (Home – Cybertip.ca).  

Impacts of Non-Consensual Photo Sharing.  

The impacts of this type of sexual violence can be devastating. Victims may experience bullying, harassment, degradation, and blame all directed towards them, the victim. Often hearing things such as “You should not have taken the photo.”, or “What did you expect?” leading to further self-internalization of the victim-shaming mentality. 

Victims of non-consensual photo sharing often receive minimal support from their loved ones. It’s not uncommon for these victims to move schools or communities to get away from their photos and the impacts they’ve caused.  

It is a Crime. 

It is illegal for someone to share intimate images of you without your consent at any age.  

If someone is under the age of 18, in the criminal code section 163, it is considered child pornography Criminal Code (justice.gc.ca) 

At any age, non-consensual sharing or posting can be considered the publication of an intimate image without consent under section 162 of the criminal code. Criminal Code (justice.gc.ca) 

It’s illegal for someone to extort or threaten to distribute an intimate image of you to force you to do something you don’t want to (Like send more images, send money, or other demands).

This is extortion and a person can be charged under criminal code section 346 Criminal Code (justice.gc.ca) 

Getting Support.

But I sent the photo . . . 

Although some victims of non-consensual photo sharing have made the image available to a (potential) intimate partner that does not mean that they are to blame. This is like how we trust third-party people with sensitive information like our credit card number or social security number, it is not the victim’s fault. The victim trusted their partner with confidential, private information and this person used it against them.  

Where can I get support?  

It’s important to acknowledge that there are places where you can get support.  

Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800. 387. KIDS (5437)
Kids Help Phone 24-hour Crisis Line 1-800-668-6868
Dragonfly Centre Izzy Chat or 1-866-300-HEAL (4325)
CASAC 24-hour Call or Text Line 1-866-956-1099
You can report anonymously online at www.cybertip.ca
You can get support or assistance removing an intimate image from www.needhelpnow.ca  

Reporting it.  

There are many different reporting options. You can choose to go through the steps that you feel most comfortable with. Reporting can be an unfamiliar and often overwhelming experience. Knowing that you have options can be comforting.  

Most major social media platforms provide an image reporting option. Sometimes it can take time for the report to be fully processed. While you are waiting you can take screenshots or gather evidence before the item is removed.  

You can report it to your local police station. They will ask you to document what happened and see what evidence you may have gathered. That’s why it is important to take screenshots of posts, messages, texts, or other conversations with that person.  

If you feel like you need extra support during any of these steps don’t hesitate to contact the Dragonfly Centre Sexual Violence Services. We can help you navigate this challenging situation.