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...continued from page 6

Some men are even targeted for extortion, by women out of the Philippines, according to experts, where they are communicating over the internet, and are asked to take off their clothes and take a photo. The men are then extorted to send money by wire or they are told they will have the images posted where people they know can see them. D'Amico advises them to shut off their social media and not pay their extorters, who will see it as an entree to continue their extortion efforts.

"So often these revenge porn internet sites are hosted overseas; the domaines are even hosted overseas, so they're very hard to go after," Bristow said. "An ex-boyfriend will post something onto one of these websites, and also post the victim's name, address, employer's information, and when people are victimized in this way, they're subjected to tremendous emotional torment. They can lose their job, have their career derailed because people don't want to hire them because of what's on the internet. There are safety issues because people will go after them; relationships are lost. Viewers will forward the photos to a victim's employers and family members. It's a form of trolling. And when you're on one revenge porn site, it's very common for other revenge porn sites to republish their image, so one becomes two, which becomes four, which becomes eight. One person contacted me who was on dozens and dozens of websites. It just manifests itself."

While removing the images from websites and the internet is difficult, Bristow said it is not impossible "because there is always a money trail and a paper trail. It might take a while, but I can find them."

D'Amico said there are forms to get the images down, even if they are difficult to navigate, which she and other attorneys familiar with the process can help victims with. "We're taking down the bridge, so we're taking down the ability for people to get there."

Walton from the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office emphasized that individuals "especially in affluent Oakland County, have an identity, and an online identity, and that online identity can invade their regular identity. In a digital world, the reality is that nothing is ever gone. These selfies you are putting out there, you can take them down, but they're there. Your online personality influences all aspects of your life. It's not just a digital reality when you get denied a job because of that online identity."

A key problem for those who have been victimized by revenge porn, who are primarily women in their twenties and thirties, is that they are blamed for having taken the photographs in the first place. Another is that law enforcement often does not support them, even when there are valid laws, thereby revictimizing them.

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Tags: LONGFORM

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