The Revenge Porn Helpline has collaborated with our sister service Report Harmful Content and a student-led organisation, Pro Empower. Report Harmful Content is a service who helps people who have been victims of online bullying, harassment and abuse. Pro Empower is trying to improve upon the current sexual misconduct policies in universities across the UK. The three organisations have collaborated on a campaign focused on busting common myths associated with the fields in which these organisations are working in.
We have chosen to do this because now more than ever, it is important we breakdown the stereotypes, myths and toxic perceptions of these issues. The ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdown has shown that these issues aren’t going anywhere any time soon and are still incredibly prominent problems in Westernised society. Many sexual and domestic abuse services saw their caseloads double during the lockdown period (March-July 2020). For example, during the March to July 2020 period, The Revenge Porn Helpline saw the amount of people trying to access their services double from the same time last year (March to July 2019). Report Harmful Content saw a similar trend, with the amount of cases double from January 2020 to July 2020.
For many students heading back to university means meeting new people, experiencing new things, more freedom and independence. However, this year is slightly different. With new laws and guidelines being put in place to keep students safe as a consequence of COVID-19, it has pushed many aspects of university life online from lectures to fresher’s week. This has also impacted many aspects of our social and personal lives, from forming new romantic relationships to pub quizzes. With this increased level of online activity, it has led to a series of new issues and problems, from increased levels of cybercrime, ‘zoombombing’ to increased levels of ‘sextortion’ (or webcam blackmail). Also, rising levels of unemployment and furlough scheme, many people are turning to online sex work. For example, Onlyfans saw the amount of UK creators increase by 42% during lockdown.
The Universities UK ‘Changing the Culture: two years on’ report in October 2019 following their initial report in 2016/2017 which highlighted the prominence of rape culture and associated behaviours in universities. Following this report and the issues associated with lockdown and the pandemic, we felt it was vitally important to make some response to it. We also wanted to proactively raise awareness of these issues and also show what support is available, especially for victims.