Distressed woman looking at mobile phone

How unwanted sexual images are shattering lives

A new report co-authored by a University researcher reveals how sexual images shared online without consent can be devastating for victims – who then find that the law fails them too.

Professor Erika Rackley of Kent Law School worked with researchers from Durham University to produce the new study, which shows the extent of the devastation this type of sexual abuse causes.

Victim-survivors experience it as an extreme and intrusive violation that doesn’t ever stop, making them feel totally isolated from family, friends and society as a whole. Many suffer harassment and fear for their safety, say the researchers.

They found that current laws are too limited and are ‘gambling with people’s lives’. Although welcoming the Government’s plan to review the legislation, they urge them to act now before more people suffer.

Professor Rackley said: ‘Victim-survivors experience image-based sexual abuse that is constant, ongoing and relentless. It not only shatters their lives, but also the lives of those who love and support them.

‘Action is needed now. Many forms of image-based sexual abuse are not covered by the current law. The Government’s current timetable suggests that victim-survivors of image-based sexual abuse will have to wait until at least 2022 for vital new laws to protect their anonymity and criminalise threats and fakeporn.’

Image-based sexual abuse refers to a broad range of abusive behaviours, including the taking and/or distribution of nude or sexual images without consent, and threats to do so, which includes so-called ‘revenge porn’, ‘upskirting’, ‘fakeporn’, sexual extortion and videos of sexual assaults and rapes.

Read the full report, entitled Shattering Lives and Myths: A Report on Image-Based Sexual Abuse (Clare McGlynn and Kelly Johnson at Durham University and Erika Rackley at the University of Kent).