Change in Illinois law gives victims of revenge porn more power

ROCKFORD (WREX) – Revenge porn has been recognized as a crime in Illinois for a little more than three years. But even with the threat of criminal charges, experts say it’s not slowing down.

Revenge porn is the distribution of sexually explicit images or videos without the subjects consent. Experts say many times a photo is sent with consent when the relationship is good. But than can easily change, and the images used against the sender.

“It’s used in so many ways, for so many reasons and is something that is not talked about enough,” says Jennifer Cacciapaglia who heads ups Rockford’s Mayor’s Office on Combating Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking. “One of the things we have to understand, both our young people and our adults, is that the cloud is forever.  Snapchat does not erase it. Just because it goes away after a certain period of time on social media outlets, that is there forever.”

Cacciapaglie says once these relationships end or turn sour, the material can be used to intimidate, harass, and blackmail the victim for the rest of their lives.

“When young people are at parties what we see and hear about happening around the region is that drugs are put in their drinks and photographs are taken in compromising positions. And those pictures are used to lure and force them into sex trafficking.”

But a new change to an Illinois Act is allowing survivors of this crime to go after their abusers in court for payment.

“We do understand that a victim can have psychological scars,” says Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross. “The Attorney General’s office can, with the appropriate application, provide the victim compensation.”

So whether it’s psychological scars or lost wages due to unemployment caused by the material being spread, victim’s now have the power to get back what’s theirs and get justice in the courtroom.

“It sends the message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in our community,” says Hite Ross.

Hite Ross stresses that survivors should not be afraid to come forward.  The application process and report can be completely confidential, and your identity can be hidden throughout.

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden

Investigative Reporter

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