We often hear that people who experience image-based abuse (or the non-consensual creation, the non-consensual sharing, and the threat to share intimate images) are negatively impacted by their experiences. What is maybe less often talked about is what these impacts look like and how they vary between each person. This is unsurprising given how little we actually know about real lived experience, particularly in Scotland. For this reason, a doctoral research project from Glasgow Caledonian University, led by Julia Zauner, is currently seeking to speak to adults in Scotland about their experiences and how they may have impacted them. As the first study specifically conducted in Scotland, it will help better understand image-based abuse and inform policy and practice.
Image-based abuse may have serious short or long-term consequences and people who experience it may face negative consequences as a result. For example, someone may have felt distressed, shameful, sad, frightened, lonely, angry, anxious, or depressed. It may have also affected their relationships with other people, such as being unable to maintain relationships or being unable to form new ones. For some, it may also affect their use of technology, such as deleting or pausing social media accounts or being hyper-alert when using the internet. For some, it may have affected their education or their work such, as getting suspended or having to take a leave of absence. It may have also resulted in someone having to invest money towards take-down fees or accessing private support services.
Some may feel fine some days but overwhelmed about their experience on other days. For some, consequences are experienced for a short time and for others a long time, and some experience these consequences continuously. For others, they may experience none of these consequences and it does not affect them in a negative way. Regardless of how someone is impacted or how someone feels or reacts to such a situation, these are all valid experiences and valid responses, and it is important to have these stories heard. This doctoral research aims to shine a light on the actual lived experience of image-based abuse by centring the voices of those affected by it. In turn, this will help create more appropriate awareness and resources for those affected in the future.
The doctoral research project at Glasgow Caledonian University is still underway and those who have experienced image-based abuse in Scotland in the past 3 years as adults are invited to share their story in a safe space through confidential, anonymous, and voluntary one-on-one interviews (held in-person or virtually with cameras on or off). This research has received full ethical approval from the Glasgow School for Business and Society at Glasgow Caledonian University. More information about the study can be found on the project website or by getting in touch with the lead researcher Julia directly on social media or by emailing email@example.com.