Updated: Jan 5, 2021
It is noteworthy to examine some of the recent national examples of cyber-sexual assault. Stories of both victims and perpetrators are shared. In so doing, the consequences of these events becomes much more evident and provides a further rationale for the current study.
Jada was a 16-year old female victim of what has been come to be known as the Steubenville rape case. Upon waking from a heavy drinking episode, Jada came to learn that she had been raped, and to add further insult, that harassing photos of herself had been taken while she laid unconscious on the ground. These pictures went viral. Online harassers throughout the nation started mocking her on sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, using the hashtag “#jadapose” in slanderous ways. Some individuals replicated her lifeless body, posting the picture with the hashtag (e.g., #jadapose) alongside quotes like “hit that” (The Guardian, 2015). Through technology, her privacy was revoked, her abuse proliferated, and her rape became a nationally known case.
A less familiar case involved a Cincinnati school teacher who shared self-taken naked photos of herself. These photos were anonymously posted online in efforts to taunt her. The media took wind of the case, and while covering private portions of her body, shared the story publicly. Numerous comments (via an unnamed website) were made about her photos, to include: “showing off a great rack,” “this slut is stupid. . . ,” and “I’d smash the hell outta that.” Within weeks of the postings, she resigned from her job. Rather than inquiring about the perpetrator, anonymous individuals perpetuated the cyber-sexual assault through the continued sharing of photos, and the media extended this assault to where one Google search brings up pages of results surrounding the story, where the naked photos are merely cropped to reduce any nudeness (USA Today, 2013).
On the perpetrator side of the problem, Hunter Moore, founder of “IsAnyoneUp.com” made national headlines after receiving jail time for his nonconsensual pornography website. He and his partner, Charles Evens, hacked private photos, and proceeded to post these stolen, naked photos of women online, where they next charged victims a fee to remove the sexual material. In an interview titled “The Most Hated Man on the Internet” for the Rolling Stones, he was quoted saying, “"I'm sorry that your daughter was 'cyber-raped,' but, I mean, now she's educated on technology” (Morris, 2012). Hunter is now serving two and a half years in prison.
Similarly, in February, 2015, Kevin Bollaert was sentenced to 18 years in prison after creating a revenge porn website that hosted thousands of women’s’ naked photos without their consent (NBC, 2015). He lived in California, where a law was recently passed making nonconsensual pornography a crime. He therefore received a rare, but lengthy sentence, due to extortion charges and not, in fact, the nonconsensual pornography law. Regardless, in a state without protective laws, however, these policies only mitigate the sexual violence.