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Revenge porn nearly doubled in just two years

With the government set to tighten the law on revenge porn our new research shows just how big of a problem this is.

25 March 2021

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Our new research, of 2,006 Brits, has shown that the number of people who have been a victim of revenge porn has almost doubled in the last two years. 15 percent have suffered, compared to just eight percent in 2019.

What is revenge porn?

Revenge porn is the sharing of a sexual image or video of someone without their consent. The research has shown it is used as a retaliation to a break-up or divorce proceedings, with 42 percent saying they were trying to force them back into a relationship. Over 40 percent of Brits aged between 18 and 45 are aware of someone who has been on the receiving end of the vengeance.

The images or videos could be made by the partner with consent during an intimate relationship, or it may be made without their knowledge. Over three quarters of the victims are women, with the perpetrators trying to blackmail them to potentially destroy their reputation or often for financial gain.

Shockingly nearly one in ten Brits admit they have shared or threatened to share a sexually explicit image without the senders consent, some claiming it’s just a laugh, but with one in five saying they ‘wanted to scare’ the sender.

Holly Atkins, family lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “These numbers are deeply worrying. We had hoped that the offending behaviour would have decreased as the issue became more widely discussed and condemned within society.

“We originally carried out this research when we had started to hear from clients who were concerned that their private images may be used against them as their divorce turned toxic. It was also clear that some images were being passed around to third parties, upon the end of the relationship without consent.

“We are pleased to report that we have not seen a surge in client based sexual harassment in this manner but we regularly hear of client’s ex’s posting or threatening to post negative things about them on social media with intent to tarnish their reputation.”

What can be done?

In 2015 the government introduced ‘revenge porn’ laws, to make it “an offence for a person to disclose a private sexual photograph or film if the disclosure is made without the consent of an individual who appears in the photograph or film, and with the intention of causing that individual distress”. Those found guilty of it can be sentenced to up to two years in prison and a fine, and more than 900 abusers have been convicted since revenge porn was outlawed, but Ministers are determined to protect further victims.

Holly Atkins added: “Although it is likely that some of these people have shared with close friends as a harmless bit of fun, it is obvious that conversations around this behaviour are still needed. Regardless of the intent, it is still an act of violation that could cause deep distress.”

Lockdown seems to have exacerbated the problem with a lot of people spending more time online, and in 2020 the Revenge Porn Helpline saw an 87 percent increase in adults seeking help.

Our research showed that over 80 percent of people backed the proposed law change to make it illegal to threaten to share someone’s sexual content without their consent and 76 percent agreed that victims of revenge porn should be granted anonymity.

Get in touch

If you are thinking about filing for divorce, but have concerns about what may happen further down the line then please get in touch.

At Slater and Gordon, our experienced family lawyers are here to support you and give you the advice you need. Meetings can take place confidentially by telephone or video call so call us on 0330 041 5869 or request a call back if you need assistance.

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