Revenge porn

In 2020, the Revenge Porn Helpline opened 3,136 cases of revenge porn after they saw an increase of 87% in calls made to them. Since the introduction of the legislation in 2015, 900 people have been prosecuted with 190 of them receiving prison sentences. The legislation outlines that it is an offence to disclose private sexual images or films without the consent of the person who appears in the images or films.

For me, revenge porn is a touchy subject. Whilst I have never had images of myself leaked all over the internet as some women have suffered, I have had images of a sexual nature being used as a threat towards myself. I’ll explain…

Not too long into the abusive relationship I was in I sent my boyfriend sexual images (nudes) of myself. I did it because he was putting pressure on how much time we spent together and how I was neglecting him when I prioritised other things I needed to do, mainly university coursework, over spending time with him. I thought it would be nice for him. A way of keeping the sexual line of communication open whilst I couldn’t physically be there. At the time of sending them he barely commented. It was a knock to my self-esteem, especially as I knew he used porn websites and had images of women on his computer, but at least I had tried something.

Fast forward to the time we were going through the break up and up pops the subject of these images that hadn’t had so much of a mention for the two years before then. He had told my best friend that he found the images online and he knew they were definitely me so it had made him concerned about what I was doing and who I had around our son. He sent the images to my best friend, although I never quite figured out why he would do that as there were no identifying factors in the pictures.

When he did this I was so scared of those images going any further. I didn’t report it to the police, although I should have as I already had an ongoing harassment case with them. There was a certain criteria that the incident would have needed to meet in order for it to be classed as a criminal offence. My ex did this in 2012 and sharing explicit images without consent was not made illegal until 2015. I was too ashamed to tell anybody else and I denied that they were me to my best friend. It did make me question whether or not I should resume the relationship just to stop it from going any further than it had.

Luckily, the images never got as far as that, but for so many other women I know this isn’t always the case. When you have been manipulated and controlled by somebody who is supposed to be a partner it can feel like the walls are closing in. When they start using tools as intimate as images or films of a sexual nature it can feel shameful and degrading. A victim of revenge porn has nothing to be ashamed we should never be put in the position of feeling manipulated into doing or saying what we have to because our images are being used as leverage against us.

If you feel you need further advice please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Revenge Porn Helpline.

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