Legal and ethical issues around sharing intimate photos in the age of the smart phone have left a lot of people – and governments – flailing to catch up with new questions.
Almost everyone either has a story about trouble they’ve run into with nude photos, or knows someone who does. The most frequent version of this story is “I sent someone I trusted pictures and they ended up somewhere I didn’t want them to be.”
One reddit user on r/TwoXChromosomes had a variation on this story that left a lot of people shocked, and sparked over 1,000 replies in a giant conversation about toxic masculinity, shame, privacy, and the law.
I ( 24F) found out that my ( 25M) boyfriend has been sharing my nudes with his father.
…I found out only because I was scrolling through his phone and he shared them over text message.
His dad made disgusting sick comments like “that’s my boy” and “ dan [sic] she’s hot and wet, she’s a keeper”.
Never ever in my life have I ever trusted anyone as much as I trusted my boyfriend. I had never sent nudes to anyone before in my life because I was terrified something like this would happen.
Things like this don’t just ruin someone’s day, or end a relationship, they can warp how a person sees themselves, and how they interact with the world, maybe permanently.
I ended up cutting off all contact with him and I am completely disgusted and so ashamed and embarrassed. I have not been able to leave my house in 2 days because I feel so objectified, used and I feel like complete trash.
I am not sure if I am going to take any steps against him legally because we were together for 3 years and I really don’t want to destroy the rest of his life with criminal charges. I am just really sick and confused right now.
I need some advice.
It obviously wasn’t long before the replies started rolling in. First, we’ll get the obvious out of the way.
WTF? This is so sick
There was, naturally, every variation of “get tf out of there.”
As a guy, get out!
A ton of people sympathized, with sometimes shockingly similar experiences.
I was not in the same situation as you exactly, but I will say I had some similar and didn’t want to ruin their lives with charges. The man in my case went on to ruin the lives of other women. I regret every day not pressing charges
Many offered words of encouragement and reminders that – even though this feels like it shouldn’t need to be said – people who find themselves in this situation aren’t the ones at fault. You feel bad, but that doesn’t mean you did wrong.
I’m sorry you feel embarrassed, but for heaven’s sake don’t be ashamed. No one who has been assaulted (and yes, ask any therapist on the planet – this is a form of assault, whether it’s against a woman OR a man) should feel ashamed. YOU did nothing wrong.
The thread contains a lot of pondering on how elements of male culture can encourage this type of thing.
I don’t understand the mentality, but I’ve sadly seen it before. My ex’s dad would commend him on getting hot girls etc. It was disgusting, and led to our breakup.
This typifies many of the responses:
I think its most likely a weird insecurity thing. They do it to confirm that other males approve of their choice and that others will see them as sexually successful.
Overall, the thread was 100% supportive, which was refreshing to see.
Allow yourself time to process this betrayal of trust and then when you feel like you’ve found your feet, you can start making decisions on how to move forward.
A few users attempted to dive into the legal options.
Unfortunately a good amount of US states only class sharing nudes without consent as a misdemeanor. I know because someone threatened me with that and in my state it’s only a misdemeanor.
But it quickly became clear that if you want to truly weigh your legal options, talk to a lawyer. Laws on these things still vary a lot from state to state.
In Illinois it’s a felony.
Edit: Also in Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Texas for the first offense, according to cybercivilrights.org. Plus in Missouri, merely threatening to distribute images is a felony in itself.
In New Jersey a first offense is a “third degree crime” with the possibility of 3-5 years in prison and a $15,000 fine, which sounds pretty felonious to me.
Oh and shoutout to Massachusetts, Mississippi, South Carolina and Wyoming, where it’s still not a punishable offense on any level.
Reading through this thread hit close to home for me because I recently tried to help a loved one navigate the same types of questions, and it’s never easy.
But it is encouraging to see culture shift toward a more supportive attitude to victims of this breeches of trust.