Revenge porn ‘new normal’ after cases surge in lockdown

Revenge porn ‘new normal’ after cases surge in lockdown

By Cristina Criddle
Technology reporter

Woman on her phone

copyright of the imageGetty Images

There has been a surge in reports of revenge porn this year, with activists saying the problem was compounded by the blockade.

About 2,050 reports were submitted to a government-funded helpline, a 22 percent increase over last year.

As cases remained high despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions, those running the service fear this is “the new normal.”

Revenge porn went illegal in England and Wales five years ago.

multimedia captionPorn revenge victim Laura Bullock talks about how her ex boyfriend shared her nude photos

Recent research by the domestic violence charity Refuge found that one in seven young women have received threats of sharing intimate photos without their consent.

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More cases of revenge porn have been reported to a dedicated helpline in the UK so far this year than in all of 2019.

About two thirds of the cases reported to the toll-free number concern women.

Helpline manager Sophie Mortimer said the sustained increase is evidence of lockdown-triggered behavior and increased awareness of crime and support.

The helpline is run by the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) charity, part of the UK’s Safer Internet Center.

This year, the charity helped remove 22,515 images, 94% of those reported by victims.

And the cases increased in August.

‘The new normal’

David Wright, director of the UK’s Safer Internet Center, said: “The blockade has produced an extreme set of circumstances which are causing a lot of problems.

“What we’re seeing here, however, suggests that something more long-term has happened, which could mean we will be busier than ever. It’s worrying to think this could be the new normal.”

Research by the domestic violence charity Women’s Aid found that more than 60 percent of survivors living with their abuser reported that their abuse worsened during the pandemic.

And revenge porn is a common form of abuse, according to Lucy Hadley, head of campaign and policy at Women’s Aid.

“Revealing private sexual images – or threatening to do so – is a common form of abuse and harms young women in particular.”

“Image-based forms of abuse – such as so-called revenge porn – need to be taken as seriously as abuse in ‘real life’,” he added.

A victim’s point of view

Folami Prehaye became a victim of revenge porn when her ex partner posted explicit photos of her online.

He was given a six-month sentence with suspended sentence for harassment and distribution of indecent images.

Miss Prehaye founded the Victims of Internet Crime: Speak Out! Website. provide ongoing emotional support to victims of this type of crime.

He said: “No wonder there has been an increase in cases during the lockdown as more and more people have been forced to build relationships online.

“The problem has always been there, it’s just that that blockade made it more obvious and an easier place for predatory sexual exploitation.”

If you or someone you know have been victims of domestic abuse or violence, the following organizations may be able to help.

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