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Revenge porn victims have doubled in last two years, figures suggest

Written by on 25 March 2021

The number of victims of revenge porn has doubled in the last two years, figures suggest.

Some 15% of Britons between the ages of 18 and 45 surveyed by leading law firm Slater and Gordon said intimate sexual pictures of them had been shared without their consent – up from 8% in 2019.

The firm said that nearly one in 10 people admitted they had shared or threatened to share an explicit image – more than twice the number in 2019. Of those, one in five said they “wanted to scare” the victim, a quarter said it was “just a laugh”, and a similar number believed the image was “their property” to share.

It comes after an announcement this month that just threatening to share such images would also be criminalised with offenders facing up to two years in jail.

The UK banned the sharing of explicit images without someone’s consent in 2015.

Calls to broaden the law had been backed by Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman, famous for playing Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown, and Love Island reality TV star Zara McDermott, herself a victim of revenge porn.

Speaking to Sky News, McDermott, who has been advising the government on the issue, said: “I feel like I went through every single emotion… the embarrassment, the shame – there’s so much of a lack of understanding around this topic still.

“What gives someone else the rights over my body?”

The Love Island star has made a BBC documentary on her experiences of revenge porn, and is encouraging people to use it as an educational tool moving forward.

Motives for revenge porn often include punishing someone for ending a relationship or trying to force someone to stay.

“These numbers are deeply worrying,” said Slater and Gordon family lawyer Holly Atkins. “We were shocked to see they had doubled.”

She said they had hoped revenge porn would have decreased as the issue became more widely discussed and condemned.

Slater and Gordon commissioned its first survey in 2019 after family lawyers noticed fears around revenge porn were cropping up as divorce proceedings turned toxic.

According to the poll, women accounted for more than three quarters of victims.

Of the 2,000 people surveyed, more than 40% knew someone who had been a victim of revenge porn and 22% knew someone who had been threatened with revenge porn.

About 40% of threats came from an ex-partner, 18% from a friend and 11% from a family member.

Slater and Gordon said just under a third of victims reported threats to the police – slightly down on 2019.

Domestic abuse charity Refuge has described threats to share intimate images as a “devastating form of domestic abuse” that ruins lives.

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