What recourse do I have if an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend posts nude photos of me online?

The legal recourse available to you after an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend posts nude photos of you online depends on your state laws regarding sexual cyberharassment. Unfortunately, most states do not have explicit criminal laws regarding revenge porn or online harassment. Enter your ZIP code below to consult with a local attorney regarding your state laws and what legal recourse you have against sexual cyberharassment from an ex.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Mar 22, 2021

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Until a few years ago, the recourse one could take against sexual cyberharassment and having explicit photos posted online without proof of consent was limited to a civil tort claim. The good news is more states and social networking sites have enacted rules to address this situation.

The most immediate relief may be obtained through the website your ex boyfriend, girlfriend, or ex-wife or husband, or another person, chose to display nude photos of you. If the posting is in violation of the website’s user agreement and posting rules, the site will remove any embarrassing content upon proper verification by the victim.

What was the intent of your ex?

The intent of your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend will determine which legal options you may pursue. If your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend has posted nude images of you with intent to embarrass, intimidate, or harm you, the posting might constitute online harassment.

Unfortunately, the rules and laws regarding online harassment and revenge porn are relatively new. Texas adopted its first online harassment law in 2009.

To determine if your state has a similar law, visit your state’s official government website and search the legislative section for terms such as “online”, “posting”, and “harassment.” It may take more than one search to find the correct title.

Even if your state has not adopted a formal online harassment statute, other penal codes may apply. If the intent of your ex is simply to “relive the highlights” of a sexual relationship that has ended, the charges may be an improper distribution of visual images.

If the intent of your ex is not clear, the fall-back charge would be a distribution of obscene material while being reckless about who would be alarmed by the posting of the private images, namely you.

To determine exactly which law applies to your situation, contact your local law enforcement agency. You may locate the official website for your local law enforcement agency by visiting Officer.com and selecting “agencies.” In most cases, if you file a complaint, this will be enough to motivate your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend to discontinue posting private photos of you online.

If your state does not offer online harassment protection or your local law enforcement agency is not up to speed on recent harassment laws, you may have to resort to civil remedies.

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Should you hire an attorney?

An attorney who specializes in internet communications can file a lawsuit to prevent your ex- from posting any additional naked photos or videos of you in the future. In cases involving married couples in the process of divorce, the restraining order can be worked into your final decree of divorce.

Civil remedies do not have as much “bite” as criminal penalties and they tend to be more expensive, but they still provide you with several palatable options and remedies.

If you find yourself in a situation where someone has revealed explicit images without consent on Facebook or Instagram do not feel embarrassed about filing a police report or contacting a reputable attorney.

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