LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The number of British people who have been a victim of so-called revenge porn has almost doubled in the last two years, researchers said on Thursday, calling the figure “deeply worrying”.
Some 15% of British people 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 it was also shocked that nearly one in 10 people admitted they had shared or threatened to share an explicit image - more than twice the number in 2019.
One in five said they “wanted to scare” the victim. A quarter said it was “just a laugh”, while a similar number deemed the image as “their property” to share.
Motives included punishing someone for ending a relationship or trying to force someone to stay in a relationship.
“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.
Women accounted for more than three quarters of victims, according to the poll.
Britain, which outlawed the sharing of explicit images without someone’s consent in 2015, announced this month that threatening to share such images would also be criminalised with offenders facing up to two years in jail.
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.
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.
It says most threats are a domestic abuse issue as they are predominantly made by current or former partners and often used as a means to control or manipulate the victim.
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.
Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org
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