If you’re a woman, especially one of the millennial generation, the odds are good that you will experience some online harassment, whether sexual or otherwise. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, 21 percent of women aged 18 to 29 report being sexually harassed online. Overall, 70 percent of females believe online harassment is a “major” problem, and that rises to 83 percent of millennials. If you are a victim of ongoing or severe online bullying, you need the services of an experienced Maryland sexual harassment lawyer.
Types of Online Sexual Harassment
Online sexual harassment takes many forms. One of the worst involves the posting of nude photos or videos or those in which the woman is performing a sexual act. Such postings are generally put online by an ex-husband or boyfriend, a type of harassment known as “revenge porn.” These sexualized images may quickly spread to thousands of sites.
Rather than post photos of the harassed individuals, a harasser may send the victim explicit images they did not request or have any desire to see. A harasser may invent an online profile of the victim as a prostitute or porn actress. The reality is that the types of online sexual harassment are limited only by the sick imagination of the harasser.
Maryland Revenge Porn Law
Under Maryland law, a person may not place on the internet a photo, video, film or any other type of reproduction that reveals another’s identity with their intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual contact if the individual did not give consent to this internet placement, or the individual had a “reasonable expectation” that the images would remain private. If convicted, the person who placed such photos on the internet faces up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Other Types of Online Harassment
Sexual harassment is not the only type of online harassment a woman may suffer. Different types of bullying include physical threats – including harm to her children or other family members – online stalking, intentional efforts to embarrass or discredit someone, and harassment over long periods. Women may also face harassment over their gender, race, age, ethnicity, religion and physical appearance. The harasser may attempt to destroy the woman’s reputation and damage her character, which may affect her employment, family and personal life.
Reporting the Harasser
A woman experiencing any form of online harassment should report the harasser immediately to the platform on which the harassment occurred. Take screenshots of the abusive posts as evidence. Some organizations can aid victims in ensuring revenge porn, and similar images are removed from the internet. Unless the victim has advanced technical skills, it is challenging to remove such postings on her own.
Contact a Maryland Sexual Harassment Attorney
If you or a loved one has been experiencing online sexual harassment, you need the services of an experienced Maryland sexual harassment attorney. Contact our office for a free initial consultation. We will evaluate your case and advise you of your options going forward.