[Mental Health]The influence is as lasting as a time bomb of private photos circulating…

[Mental Health]The influence is as lasting as a time bomb of private photos circulating…

Text◆Chen Zhenji “Ming Pao”

Everyone has a smartphone, and it is very easy to shoot or upload images. When they are in love, many couples want to keep the sweet moment and take photos of fingers intertwined, hugging and kissing. How to deal with when one of them asks to take more private photos?

(Hong Kong News) A number of intimate photos were circulated on the Internet earlier, which once again raised society’s attention to sexual violence in images. Private photos can be leaked accidentally, or become a threat tool after a breakup, which will have a profound impact on the victim’s mental health. The trauma suffered is equivalent to sexual assault, and the pressure of public opinion will cause secondary harm to the victim.

Clinical Psychologist Liang Chongpan

Jian Minqi, Senior Initiative Director of the Association for Concerning Sexual Violence against Women

Shooting and disseminating are considered graphic violence

When it comes to sexual violence, everyone thinks of indecent assault, sexual harassment, and sexual assault; but as long as it is involuntary and sexually related, it falls under the category of violence. Clinical psychologist Liang Chongdan pointed out that according to the revised version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM 5), injuries involving the shooting and leakage of intimate images are also classified as sexual assault trauma. “The definition of sexual assault is not just Physical sexual assault or violence, including emotional pain (psychological pain) refers to some painful memories, invasion of deep privacy, feelings of shame and betrayal; as well as social pressure, stigma, rejection, personal image Being destroyed, etc., will cause great psychological pain to the victims.”

Hong Kong amended legislation in 2021 to make it illegal to publish or threaten to publish private images without consent. However, due to the hidden and rapid propagation characteristics of the Internet, many people are still harmed by it. Jian Minqi, senior advocacy director of the Association for Concerning Women’s Sexual Violence, said that as long as the behavior is without the consent of others and involves private images, whether it is photographed, disseminated or shared, it is image-based violence. Other situations include using private images to threaten sexual intercourse, extorting money, and transposing the victim’s appearance into pornographic images. These behaviors cause the victims to suffer great harm and pressure, and may even lead to suicide.

Don’t dare to ask for help for fear of provoking the other person’s retaliation

Jian Minqi pointed out that most of the perpetrators of such incidents are known to the victims, such as intimate partners, and they threaten to release images as a control tool. Therefore, some victims may not immediately seek third-party assistance, fearing that actions such as asking for help or calling the police will irritate the other party. To retaliate, release the images online. This type of sexual violence has lasting effects, like a ticking time bomb. “Some victims said that they were mentally prepared to face this matter for the rest of their lives. Even if the photos are deleted now, there is no guarantee that they will suddenly appear again one day and be used to threaten them and extort money.” In addition, some victims also said There is a lack of trust in the police or the law, and they believe that calling the police may not actually help.

or post-traumatic stress syndrome

When you are frightened every day and suffer from emotional distress for a long time, it can seriously lead to mental illness. Liang Chongshan pointed out that the leakage of private images will make the victims feel ashamed, damage their self-esteem, affect their self-worth, and even cause distrust of others. “Because these images should have been taken by people who have a very close relationship and mutual trust; so ( Image leakage) will cause a breakdown in trust, leaving the victim helpless and causing negative emotional reactions such as anxiety, resentment, low self-esteem, and fear.”

Moreover, it is difficult to control and stop others from continuing to circulate the images after they are leaked. It may affect the victim’s social life, such as difficulties in establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships, or embarrassment in schools or workplaces; he may also have to face public opinion. Pressure, and in severe cases, you may even be harassed.

She said the victim would be worried about similar incidents happening in the future.

“They may be afraid to establish a romantic or intimate relationship again, which may lead to them feeling uneasy when establishing a trusting relationship with others in the future, and fearing that their privacy will be invaded again; they are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), and they may avoid contact with the trauma. Related things, such as not being able to go online anymore, avoiding certain places where the incident occurred, etc. You may even be immediately scared when you mention the photo.”

If the trauma persists or even affects your daily life, you may need to seek treatment from a professional such as a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.

Set up a support organization to help remove images

In order to help victims remove private images as soon as possible, the Women’s Sexual Violence Concern Association began to provide “Ta-DA removal support” in early 2021 to assist victims in requesting relevant online platforms to remove private images that have been distributed without consent, and Provide emotional counseling, legal consultation and other support services as needed.

According to the service report from 2021 to 2023, the association provided removal support for a total of 171 cases and reported 1,342 private image contents to online platforms that were published without consent, 89% of which were eventually removed from the shelves. These private images most often appear on pornographic websites, followed by social media platforms and search engines; more than 70% of recipients are women and more than 20% are men.

The leakage of private images will make the victim feel ashamed, damage their self-esteem, and affect their self-worth.

Society is prejudiced against victims

Blame and criticism lead to secondary traumatization

“No one wants their private images to be seen by others without their knowledge or consent, especially in today’s society where there is still some prejudice against victims of sexual violence.”

Jian Minqi, senior advocacy director of the Association for Women’s Sexual Violence Concern, said that when the victim spoke out about her victimization experience, others failed to respond empathetically, and even said, “These photos should not have been taken in the first place” and “If they are taken, they will be spread.” Expectations,” “retaliation for offending others,” and other reproachful words, “Especially when the images are taken voluntarily, they will feel that the victim may be sexually open and too naive, which will undoubtedly cause a lot of secondary harm to the victim.” .

Should accompany the victim to call the police

This also leads some people to be patient and not seek immediate help. At the same time, one of their fears is that the victim’s private information may be made public and they may be harassed or bullied online by strangers in the future.

If you are not careful, the careless words of people around you can easily cause harm to the victim. Clinical psychologist Liang Chongfan pointed out that family members and friends should try to avoid criticism and try to provide support, acting as listeners and allowing the victim to express his or her feelings.

“Especially relatives, in theory, should be the most trusted person by the victim, but because of the deep love and deep responsibility, they may accidentally say a lot of reproachful words, which will only deepen the victim’s pain and affect their emotions. ” On the contrary, some practical help should be provided, such as accompanying the victim to call the police or seeking legal or psychological counseling.

As a general public, the most important thing is not to forward those photos or videos to attack the victims, so as not to cause secondary harm to them.

Relatives and friends should play the role of listeners and provide support and companionship.

Avoid personal features

Assess risks and think carefully before shooting

What should I do if my partner asks for private photos to be taken?

◆Think clearly about personal wishes and evaluate risks, such as the credibility and reliability of the other party, network security measures, etc. If you are unwilling to be photographed, you should directly refuse and explain your concerns, or you can use poor conditions as an excuse. If you agree to be photographed, you should Communicate clearly with your partner. First agree on the purpose of the image, storage method, storage period, viewing and ownership rights, etc., and agree that if one party requests to delete it, the other party must delete it.

◆Consider whose equipment to use for shooting.

◆Save images carefully. It is recommended to store them in a highly confidential application or encrypt the files to reduce the risk of leakage.

◆Avoid taking pictures of parts with personal characteristics, such as appearance, tattoos or birthmarks.

◆Make sure to completely delete the image, for example, remove the photo from the Trash or “Recently Deleted Album” and delete the cloud backup at the same time.

Information provided: Website of the Association for Concerning Women’s Sexual Violence

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