My ex-boyfriend recorded a video of the two of us engaged in sexual relations. I consented to the recording at the time since we were in a relationship. Unbeknownst to me, however, he posted the video on a pornographic website after we broke up. He has also shared this video with mutual friends of ours. I did not consent at all to the disclosure of the video and have asked him remove it from the website and stop sharing it with people. This is beyond humiliating, but I don’t know what legal options I have to stop him. Are there any?
– Exploited & Humiliated
The experience you describe is commonly known as revenge porn. It’s a way for disgruntled spouses and partners to retaliate against their exes by sharing private videos and images of them. This is meant to embarrass, blackmail, or damage the reputation of the victim. Revenge porn is illegal in North Carolina.
The original revenge porn law, passed in 2015, prohibited the online posting of an explicit photo or video without the consent of the parties involved. However, in order to be eligible for prosecution, the posting had to be connected to a long-term relationship. That changed in 2017. North Carolina’s new law makes it illegal to post nude or sexual images of someone without their consent, even if the two only had a casual relationship.
Private individuals are allowed to consent to being photographed or video recorded. But that does not give the other person the right to share those images with others, including by use of text messages or other media. That means even “sexting” can be a crime, depending on whether the person consented to the images being shared.
Under our state’s laws, intent is a major factor in determining whether a crime has been committed. If the person sharing the images is doing so with the intent to coerce, harass, intimidate, demean, humiliate, or cause financial loss to the victim, it’s illegal.
Criminal prosecution is just one option at your disposal. You can also hold your ex liable in North Carolina’s civil courts. He could be ordered to pay a variety of damages, such as costs for psychological treatment and lost income due to any financial harm caused by his actions. Even if you suffer no financial loss, the guilty party may have to pay $1,000 for each day the law is violated (up to $10,000); up to $250,000 in punitive damages (to punish your ex); and attorney’s fees and court costs.
It is important, in your case, to document as much evidence as possible concerning the abuse. If you have text messages from your ex related to the revenge porn, or you find the content online, preserve those texts, videos and images. When you have your evidence, contact an attorney who is familiar with North Carolina’s revenge porn laws. Your lawyer can explain the laws, help take your case to law enforcement, and file civil action against your ex-boyfriend.
But don’t wait to act once you find evidence of the wrongdoing. There are time limitations to filing civil claims against your ex, and these cases are better handled before the explicit content gets into the hands of too many people.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and not to be taken as legal advice, nor to establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Laura H. Budd or Weaver | Budd, Attorneys at Law. Submit your questions for The Fine Print to: firstname.lastname@example.org