Threatening a person with revenge porn to become a criminal offence

Threatening to share someone’s intimate photos or videos will be a criminal offence and could lead to an individual serving up to two years in prison, as the Government makes changes to the upcoming Domestic Abuse Bill.

The Government accepted Amendment 48 to the Domestic Abuse Bill at the report stage on March 8. 

Lisa King, director of communications and external relations at domestic violence charity Refuge, said in a statement: “We are thrilled that the government has recognised the need for urgent change.” 

The change to the Domestic Abuse Bill has come at a time where revenge porn cases in the UK are increasing rapidly.

Statistics from charity Revenge Porn Helpline show a major rise in revenge porn cases it has worked on between 2017 and 2020.

The overwhelming increase is between 2019 and 2020, with an increase from 1,681 cases to 3,146.

Revenge Porn Helpline confirmed the rapid rise between 2019-2020 is because more victims are reporting and coming forward with their experiences as well as revenge porn happening to more and more people.

A revenge porn victim from Kingston who wants to remain anonymous thinks there was another reason for the rising cases in 2020.

She said: “Social media is definitely playing a role in the rise of revenge porn cases.

“It’s so quick and easy to share anything, and particularly in the last year with lockdowns more people would be on their phones than before, being stuck at home with nothing to do, I can understand why cases have risen this year.”

King confirmed that the number of revenge porn victims is rising and that victims are more likely to be women.

King said: “Our research found that one in seven young women have experienced these threats to share, with the overwhelming majority experiencing them from a current or former partner, alongside other forms of abuse.

“The Domestic Abuse Bill provides the perfect legislative vehicle for this change, and the government has acted quickly and decisively.”

The impact on revenge porn victims

The emotional and mental impact on revenge porn victims is vast, affecting them in numerous and different ways.

The revenge porn victim from Kingston said:

“So many thoughts went through my head when I found out that my photos were shared around school – have my parents seen them, have my teachers, will my children in the future see them, should I delete my social media? It was so overwhelming.”

The anonymous source believes that being a victim of revenge porn will have a long-lasting impact.

She said: “When I meet someone new I still think: they’ve seen that photo of me, haven’t they? I don’t think that thought and feeling is ever going to go away.”

The campaign for change

The campaign for the adjustment to the Domestic Abuse Bill was led by charity Refuge and supported by celebrities including actress Olivia Coleman and 2018 Love Island contestant Zara McDermott.

McDermott presented a BBC Three documentary about her own and others experiences of revenge porn.

King believes the change in legislation is a triumph for women. She said: “This is a victory for women and girls and testimony to the power of working together for change.”

If you have been affected by revenge porn, contact the charity Refuge or Revenge Porn Helpline on 0345 6000 459 for advice and support.

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