Imagine being constantly worried that those people in the street, at work, at your friends' party, have potentially seen you in your most vulnerable state. It cannot be underestimated the damage that just one click of a button can do, no matter who you are in the world.
Victims of image based sexual abuse, more commonly known as revenge porn, are often left in shock, traumatised and over-whelmed by what has happened to them; their most intimate moments, shared with thousands in literally a matter of seconds. How does anyone begin to move on from an experience like that?
The Revenge Porn Helpline is the UK's only free, confidential service dedicated to supporting victims over the age of 18 who have had their intimate images or videos shared without their consent.
We provide practical support to help individuals in reporting and removing content online.
Whilst we can never guarantee the removal of all content, we have spent many years building up exceptional partnerships with internet industry partners and will always try our best to minimise the trauma caused to victims of revenge porn. We provide guidance on how victims can report the crime to the police, how they can find the courage to reach out for more long-term psychological support and essentially how to move on from an experience that often they thought would never happen to them.
The latest headlines to hit the world of revenge porn are of course those of Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna. A couple regularly hitting the headlines with their prevalence on social media and reality TV, Kardashian is alleged to have posted intimate images of Chyna on Instagram before being deleted off the social media platform, and then re-posting the same intimate content on Twitter. It is against the law in California US, to post intimate images without consent in order to cause distress and should he be found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to six months in prison.
For us, working hard every day trying to fight the impacts of revenge porn, this comes as affirmation that it doesn't matter who you are, or how public your life is- If the victim does not consent to sharing those intimate images and you are intent on causing them distress or embarrassment, then you've broken the law. This is something we hope the judicial system will recognise.
Revenge Porn was made against the law in the UK in 2015, punishable by up to 2 years in prison. Since this, there have been more than 200 convictions and our helpline has received more than 7,000 contacts from clients seeking our help. Unfortunately, far less cases end in prosecution than we would like. Victims can often be too traumatised to go the police, wanting to just forget about the whole experience and move on, which they have every right to.
Other factors that make it harder for victims to pursue prosecution can include a lack of evidence, limited police understanding and the current inability to stay anonymous throughout proceedings (as is the case with generic sexual abuse cases). This last one in particular, given the nature of the crime, and that their most intimate content has already been seen by friends, families and potentially 1000's of strangers all over the world, means that many victims are put off wanting to seek justice as they begin to ponder on just how many more people might learn about the horrific ordeal they experienced.
As social media, posting boards, technological devices, and the ability to share with thousands in literally a matter of seconds becomes ever more prevalent, unfortunately so does the issue of revenge porn. It's important to point out that this doesn't always mean content shared by an ex-partner in a fit of rage, but can be shared by complete strangers who want to extort you for money, a 'friend' that you trusted, a stalker, and anyone in between.
Some people think victims shouldn't have shared their intimate content to start with, well, sometimes they don't even know the content existed, because it was either taken on the sly or their devices were hacked by strangers. Either way, this person is the victim of a crime and deserves to have support they can access.
No-one should ever feel ashamed for trusting someone intimately. The perpetrators are in the wrong for violating that trust, and it became a crime when they choose to share it publicly.
Unfortunately revenge porn isn't going away any time soon, no matter who you are in the world. In the UK we're seeing a growing demand for our service to the point where we now need to raise more money to finance it.
So, we're crowdfunding. We are crowdfunding so that we can continue supporting victims of revenge porn and to assist in helping other professionals learn more about this important issue.
Our campaign, which involves raising £90,000 by 31st July, is absolutely vital for everyone in the UK to know that they have somewhere to go should they find themselves a victim of this debilitating act. Victims are not alone, they have done nothing wrong, and they deserve the right to be supported so that they can move on from this.
You can support our Crowdfunder campaign by visiting http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/revenge-porn-helpline and donating. Share the campaign, talk to your friends about it, be aware of the issues, and together we can all fight to end the era of revenge porn.
If you've been a victim of revenge porn you can contact us for free, confidential support on 0345 6000 459 or www.revengepornhelpline.org.uk