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Oklahoma takes aim at ‘revenge porn’

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A state lawmaker wants to criminalize people who post sexually explicit photos of others without their consent, a practice commonly known as revenge porn.'

Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) has written what he calls a "no-brainer" bill that he said is necessary to protect both women and men from sexual abuse and shaming.

Twenty-six states have passed similar bills into law.

"It may not be physical violence, but it's the kind of intimidation that goes hand-in-hand with domestic violence," Holt told NewsChannel 4. "The destruction you can cause by disseminating a personal image of somebody that once trusted you across the internet is incredible."

Heavin Taylor knows the destruction firsthand.

She first started receiving strange messages on social media years ago, some with explicit and degrading messages.

"And, after a little bit of digging, I realized these people were finding nude photos of me online that I had never posted, and I didn't know this was happening," she said. "I felt incredibly isolated. I was depressed."

In fact, the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project said some victims of revenge porn have even committed suicide.

Others have been subjected to stalking and may have difficulty finding work.

Often, the photos are posted online after relationships go south.

Photos are frequently captioned with descriptions of cheating exes, written by people the victims once trusted enough to share nude photos.

"If someone chooses to send pictures like that, that is their choice, but it's also your choice to disrespect them and post them online," Taylor said. "Not only did I not consent to this, I didn't imply consent. And, consent isn't something that should be implied anyway, because it should be something that's explicitly given, and I did not give it."

At times, Taylor said she was afraid to leave her house because of the messages she received.

It's taken her years to get them removed from some corners of the internet.

The Oklahoma City YWCA said it sees revenge porn used against the women it serves "on a regular basis."

"The issue stems around power and control and so does sexual violence and domestic violence," said Karla Docter, the YWCA's senior director of sexual violence prevention and response. "This is just another way we shame women for their sexuality."

Holt's bill passed committee on a 37-1 vote and will be heard next on the senate floor.

People who are struggling with revenge porn or know someone who is can call the YWCA's 24-hour hotline at 405-943-7273.