Sharing intimate images without consent is not always about revenge

Organisations backing a new law to prosecute those who share intimate images without consent have underlined the crime isn't always about revenge.

The new law came into force from July 3, 2017
The new law came into force from July 3, 2017

Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland have highlighted that it can happen both in and out of a relationship, as research released today highlights understanding of the term ‘revenge porn’.

Those surveyed almost universally think the meaning of the term related to the sharing or threat of sharing intimate material when a relationship is over (91 per cent), with almost three quarters (73 per cent) thinking it relates to the threat of sharing when in a relationship.

Supporting the campaign to change attitudes to the crime, the organisations stressed the uniting factor in all cases is the abuse of privacy and trust by the person who shares or threatens to share intimate images without consent, regardless of the circumstances.

They also underlined that the use of the term to describe the non-consensual sharing of intimate images may cause people to misunderstand the new law, which was introduced in July.

Under the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016, those convicted of the offence of ‘disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate image or film’ could face up to five years imprisonment.

The campaign aims to drive home the serious consequences of sharing intimate images of films of someone without their consent.

Brenna Jessie of Scottish Women’s Aid said: “That intimate images exist and are shared between consenting adults is not the problem. The problem is perpetrators who abuse their power, breach her trust and share them without her consent, no matter their motivation.

“In relationships where there is domestic abuse, a perpetrator uses intimate images as a way to control his victim. By telling people he will show or share intimate pictures or videos of his partner to her friends, family, community or even the public, the abuser traps her and manipulates her.

“It’s so important that people understand that this crime isn’t just about ex-partners looking seeking revenge, but the sharing of any intimate images without consent. This can include ex-partners, current partners or people who’ve never been in a relationship, whether the subject knew the pictures were being taken or not. Unless you have explicit consent, it is both wrong to share intimate images and now it is illegal.”

Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “It’s important we increase understanding that these offences don’t always involve the person sharing the image seeking revenge. Regardless of circumstance, sharing intimate images without consent is about power, control and humiliation and its impact is devastating.”

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