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Revenge porn

Revenge porn is when someone shares sexually explicit images or videos of another person without their consent, and with the aim of causing them distress or harm. It refers to materials that are shared both online and offline, and includes uploading images to the internet and social media channels, sharing by text and e-mail, and showing someone a physical or electronic image or video.

Revenge porn is illegal and usually occurs when a person publishes/shares/discloses a private sexual photograph or film, without the consent of the person who appears in it; intending to cause that person distress. It does not have to be published on the internet for it to be a crime, it can be sent via text message or shown in person. However, it is not an offence if the photograph or film is shown only to the person who appears in it.

FAQ

Who can be affected by revenge porn?

In April 2015 the Criminal Justice and Courts Act made it illegal to publish a private sexual image of another identifiable person without their consent.

Anyone can be affected by revenge porn, however on many occasions the person responsible will be an ex-partner or someone you know.

Regardless of whether you have had a long term relationship, a one night stand with the person or you consented to the videos/pictures being taken or you took them yourself- if you did not consent to the images being shared, revenge porn is never ok.

Do I have to be in a relationship with someone for it to be considered revenge porn?

You do not have to be in a relationship with the person for it to be considered revenge pornography. 

On some occasions the images/videos are accompanied by personal information about the subject, including their full name, address and links to their social media profiles.

No matter how much you trust another person, you must always be aware that once you take a photograph or video of yourself and send it to someone else, there is a risk that it will end up in the public domain.

Sometimes victims might feel too ashamed to report the crime to the police. There can even be reputational and financial harm from the risk of losing your job. If you've experienced revenge porn it’s important to remember that you’re not to blame or alone; please seek help. Only the offender is responsible for this crime taking place.

Please do not confront the person responsible or put yourself in danger.  It is also important to remember not to seek revenge by sharing any images you have of the person you suspect shared the images of you.  If you do this you may face legal action yourself.

What is classed as revenge pornography?

  • For the offence to be classed as revenge porn the image must show the person’s exposed genitals, or be a picture of someone who is engaged in sexual behaviour or posing in a sexually provocative way.
  • Revenge porn only applies to topless photos which are sexual or ‘not the kind of thing ordinarily seen in public’. For example it would not apply to photos of a woman sunbathing topless on a beach.
  • If the offender uses part of a picture of a victim who is over 18 from a non-sexual photograph, and photoshops it onto a person posing in a sexual manner, this does not count as revenge porn. This would be classed as malicious communications. 
  • It is against the law to produce a fake sexually explicit image of a person who is under 18.
  • A person will only be guilty of revenge porn if the reason for sharing the photograph is to cause distress to a person depicted in the photograph or film.
  • If you have any concerns please contact us.  We can still offer you advice and support and it may be the case that the person sharing the photo has broken another law.

What happens to the person responsible for posting revenge porn?

A person found guilty of this offence may face a fine or even imprisonment. If you believe that you have been the victim of revenge porn then contact us. A victim of revenge porn can also get advice from the revenge porn helpline, see link in related information.

Revenge porn was made a specific offence in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. The Act specifies that if you are accused of revenge porn and found guilty of the criminal offence, you could be prosecuted and face a sentence of up to two years in prison.

How can I help gather evidence?

Make sure you download and save it, as this could be invaluable to the investigation. 

If there are screenshots of messages, emails or social media posts please ensure they are saved somewhere so that can we can use them as part of the investigation.

If you have been sent a sexually explicit image directly, please do not share or show it to anyone else under any circumstances. A call handler will be able to offer you further advice.

If there is enough evidence to charge someone with this incident, a court hearing may be necessary. You may be asked to give evidence and you will be fully supported throughout this process.

You can find more information about receiving special measures in court by https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/special-measures

How to get the content removed online

Most social media sites and websites have strict rules around nudity.  UK adult sites should only allow content on their site which has been uploaded with the person’s consent who appears in the image.

You need to flag these images to the site and ask them to remove the image.  Each site will have a different process or policy in place to help you report your concerns. If you are struggling to find it try looking in the 'help' or 'contact us' sections of the site.

You can report non-consensually shared images online if it happens on a social network. This can help get an image removed.

How to stay safe online

Here are some tips to help you stay safe online:

  • Check your privacy settings on social media regularly to keep them up to date.
  • Don’t share personal information or contact details online.
  • Turn your webcam off when you are not using it.
  • If someone has posted explicit images of you online, report the incident to the website where the images were posted and ask for them to be removed. If you decide to report the crime to the police, try to keep evidence of the incident by taking a record and screenshots of any posts or messages.If you need further advice on how to get explicit online material removed, contact the Revenge Porn Helpline on 0845 6000 459.

One victim’s experience of revenge porn
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