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What is 'revenge porn'?

Sometimes also referred to as non-consensual pornography or image based sexual abuse, it is the act of sharing intimate pictures or videos of someone either on or offline, without their consent.

The content is often linked to the victim's social networking accounts and other websites and viewers are encouraged to share, download and comment. In some cases links to the content is emailed or sent to family and friends or employers.

Victims come from all backgrounds, male and female, aged 18 and up.

Who commits revenge porn? 

 

It can be anyone who shares content without consent, male or female. Often the person responsible is an aggrieved former partner, but NOT always. They can be a stranger. You do not have to be in a relationship with the perpetrator for it to be considered revenge pornography. 

Whatever your circumstances, we will do our best to help!

Some cases have stemmed from hacked devices or cloud storage (for example the high profile iCloud hack where hundreds of images were accessed, including those of celebrities), the 'snappening', where a third party app was compromised and thousands of snapchat images were leaked, or even incidents where a stranger stumbles across content, for example on Facebook, and then posts it elsewhere online.

Where is revenge pornography shared? 

 

Sometimes images are posted on social media or blogs, dating sites, porn sites or websites which have been deliberately set up to host this content. They have been shared through emails, shown on phone screens. There have been cases where images have been printed and put on cars in the street. 

Why do people share others' intimate content? 

 

Overall, the intention is to cause significant embarrassment, harassment and shame and the effects can be devastating. To have explicit images that are deeply personal in the public domain is an emotionally traumatic and violating experience. The effect on victims is often pervasive and long lasting.

While they have been the victim of a crime, often individuals internalise feelings of guilt and shame. Depression and anxiety are sadly commonplace. There can be reputational and financial harm from victims being dismissed from employment. Some feel so isolated and overwhelmed they consider suicide. If you are feeling like this, you are not alone, please seek help. People are waiting to listen to you. 

The media have reported on many stories of revenge porn and sadly this has usually been sensationalist, often victim blaming and not always factually correct. Cases of celebrities sexting and incidents such as the iCloud hack have led to revenge porn being addressed in mainstream popular culture. Films such as Sex Tape with Cameron Diaz and the song 'Revenge Porn' by Blood on the Dancefloor add to the belief that this is normal behaviour. It is not.

The Law

In April 2015 the Criminal Justice and Courts Act made it,  

'an offence for a person to publish a private sexual image of another identifiable person without their consent where this disclosure causes distress to the person who is the subject of the image.'

In September 2016, it was announced that, since the law had come in, there had been over 200 convictions.

Anonymity? 

 

An area of the law we are advocating to change is that victims of revenge pornography are not granted automatic legal anonymity when they report that offence. The betrayal, embarrassment and deep distress suffered by victims cannot be underestimated and protecting their identity will help minimise the harm to victims.

Other legislation 

 

There are also several other Acts which may cover this type of behaviour: the Theft Act 1968 (which includes extortion and blackmail), the Malicious Communications Act 1988 (which includes sending threatening or offensive messages) and the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (which includes stalking or any other persistent behaviour that causes distress). For the harassment element to apply the behaviour needs to be a repeated act, for example replicating the images on numerous sites, reposting over a period of time or repeated messaging. Sentences for these offences can include significant prison sentences.

On the 24th April 2017, the Sentencing Council included the "threat to disclose intimate material or sexually explicit images" within its guideline for offences under the Communications Act 2003

For the Revenge Porn Helpline Poster in PDF, downloadable for professionals and services, please click link below:

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