Woman left feeling ‘upset, angry and sick’ after revenge porn ordeal

A survey commissioned by Refuge found that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales have experienced threats to share intimate ima...

A survey commissioned by Refuge found that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales have experienced threats to share intimate images or videos. Picture: AntonioGuillem/Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A brave woman has spoken out about a newer form of domestic abuse: sharing – or threatening to share – intimate images, following a national campaign to make the threat of revenge porn illegal.

As of 2014, revenge porn – maliciously sharing explicit pictures of former partners – is against the law, and can result in a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

One Hertfordshire woman has spoken of her experience, and said the threat alone is a form of abuse.

A 25-year-old, who has asked to remain anonymous, has spoken out in support of a campaign by national women’s charity, Refuge – which seeks to make the threat of sharing intimate photographs illegal as well.

She explained: “I was seeing this guy and everything was fine at the start.


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“All of a sudden, if I didn’t answer his calls while I was with my family and friends, he would assume I was with another man.

“He started calling me awful names. From then on, it was constant name calling.

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“One day, at my house, he accused me of talking to other men – which I repeatedly denied. He asked me to show him my phone over and over again.

“Eventually I showed him, and he scrolled messages from years before I’d even met him.

“He got very angry and smashed my phone on the floor. That’s when he started threatening to send photos that I had sent to him, and others that he had taken without my permission, to my family.

“As the arguing continued, he made out that he had sent them while he was still in my house, and he carried on calling me all these names.”

The woman spent a sleepless night with the man in her house, too scared to ask him to leave. She blocked his phone number, attempting to cut off all contact with him the next day.

“I was scared to go to work the next day, in case he had sent images of me to work colleagues,” she added.

The woman told her sister what had happened, who assured her she had not received any messages from the man and that he appeared to have been bluffing.

However, this was not the end of the threats.

She said: “A couple of weeks later he starting texting me again from a different number. I answered, not knowing who it was.

“It was a similar thing again – I was at my friend’s house, and he wouldn’t stop calling because he thought I was with another man.

“Even though I explained I was with my family, he threatened to send the pictures again.

“It was when I called his bluff that he actually did it, because he had no power any more.”

The pictures were sent to various members of her family, leaving her feeling “angry, upset and sick”.

The Naked Threat campaign by Refuge – a domestic abuse charity supporting women and children – calls on the government to amend Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 to explicitly outlaw threats to share sexual images or films in England and Wales.

It was launched in the summer after Refuge’s specialist tech abuse team saw an increase in the number of women reporting threats to share intimate images, “providing a unique insight into how this form of abuse is developing, and the barriers survivors face in accessing police support and keeping safe”.

A survey commissioned by Refuge found that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales have experienced threats to share intimate images or videos – equivalent to 4.4 million. Threats to share intimate images are most prevalent among young people aged 18 to 34, with 1 in 7 young women experiencing such threats.

Eighty-three per cent of women who experienced the threat from a current or former partner also experienced other forms of abuse.

The woman added: “I would say to anyone else who is going through this, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. They want you to feel shame, which is why they do it. They’re the ones who should be ashamed, not you.

“I wish I had been brave enough to report it at the time.

“I would encourage people to support The Naked Threat campaign. The threat alone keeps the abuser in control and keeps the victims in relationships they are trying to leave.”

To show your support for the campaign, go to campaign.refuge.org.uk/page/63006/action/1.

Anyone suffering any form of domestic abuse can find support at refuge.org.uk/get-help-now.

You can also call the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08 088 088 088 for free and confidential support.

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