#2. The Law Usually Can't Protect You
When Chiarini first went to the police about her ex sharing her photos, the first question they asked was how old she'd been when the pictures were taken. She answered that she was over 18 at the time, so the next question they asked was "Who's next in line?" See, despite the fact that he had done virtually everything in his power to destroy her life and was apparently succeeding, Chiarini's ex hadn't actually broken a law yet. In many states, it's not even a crime to share private, compromising photos of somebody for the express purpose of harming them.
If this kind of sounds like the plot for a bad Lifetime movie, that's because it is.
Vora had more luck: Because her state is one of the few where revenge porn is illegal, she could get her ex arrested on domestic violence charges. This solved all of her problems ... except for the biggest one: The fact that her pictures were still on the Internet. Taking something down from the Internet, even if it's illegal, is like bailing out the ocean with a teacup. Just ask the RIAA. To this day, Vora still gets creepy pictures in her inbox (and much, much more worryingly, sometimes on her doorstep), signed by strangers saying they are "just returning the favor."
"At least it's in ink this time."
Don't jump all over the cops for this one, though: Writing anti-revenge-porn laws is tough. If you make it illegal for the person who took a photo to publish it without getting the subject's permission, then you're not protecting people who share nude selfies, which makes up the majority of revenge porn photos. And the laws won't get more specific until people decide that someone who takes a nude picture of themselves still deserves protection. Silly lawmakers -- naked people are clearly very vulnerable. They need protection the most.
But don't get too disheartened yet, because ...
#1. Things Are Changing for the Better
Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images
End Revenge Porn has made an incredible amount of progress getting laws passed in a short amount of time. "We're working on at least a dozen state bills and a federal bill right now," Jacobs told us, "and it's only been 16 months!" That's a long time to be naked and helpless, but in congressional terms, it's practically time travel. Luckily, others are helping fill the gaps:
James McGibney, a former Marine who runs Bullyville.com, sued a prominent revenge porn site owner for $250,000 (with daily compounding interest, which is the worst kind of interest), for accusing McGibney of being a pedophile and threatening his wife. "There's no point in having pissing matches online. We look at everything from a legal scenario," McGibney told us. "Word gets out that if you own a revenge porn site, Bullyville will come after you. And they have to think, 'Is it worth it ... when this is coming?'"
Adam Steinbaugh, a legal blogger, helped expose an extortion scam with the website IsAnybodyDown.com: "It was basically telling people 'if you don't want to be featured on our website, contact this attorney' ... turns out it's the same person who runs the website." He also works with PayPal to get revenge porn site owners' accounts shut down, and once all the money goes out of being a living stain on the underwear of humanity, most people find a different career path. On Twitter, he helps victims get in contact with lawyers who can help them with their specific case, making him the owner of perhaps the first and only practical Twitter account in history.
They're all learning something: When you make the Internet understand that there are real people behind the pics, most users don't like revenge porn. "When I first started End Revenge Porn, and I would post on blogs and news sites about it, the response was 100 percent negative," said Jacobs. "Now, it's very seldom that we get a negative response. Once I started putting a face and a personal experience on this, people started thinking, 'I don't care if trolls speak against me. What this girl went through is terrible, and what she's doing is amazing, and someone needs to help her.'"
Good job, humanity!
Related Reading: Cracked's personal experience team has also explored the life of a heroin addict and the shocking realities of modern homelessness. We've talked to a psychiatric professional at Guantanamo Bay and even taken you inside a mental institution. Got a story or a job you think we'd love to write about? Share it here.