Shattering Myths about Image Based Sexual Abuse – Clare McGlynn, Erika Rackley and Kelly Johnson

Image-based sexual abuse thrives on myths.

Myths about motives. Myths about victims. Myths about political,  legal and institutional responses.

  • It’s only a picture, you can move on … myth!
  • It’s all illegal now anyway … myth!
  • All you need to do is report it to the police and the picture will be taken down … myth!

Our report – Shattering Myths and Lives: A Report on Image-Based Sexual Abuse – drawing on 25 interviews with victim-survivors of image-based sexual abuse concentrates on the reality of this pernicious form of sexual abuse.

Image-based sexual abuse shatters lives. A significant numbers of victim-survivors experience profound ‘social rupture’ – a major devastation that drastically alters all aspects of their lives. Take, Anna (not her real name), for example:

“My whole world just crumbled … I’m nowhere near the person I once was. That’s gone and it’s rebuilding a new part of me now … It’s torture for your soul, it really is”

Victim-survivors spoke of abuse that is constant, ongoing and relentless; that shatters not only their lives, but also the lives of those who love and support them.

And yet, the Government is proposing to wait at least three years – that is until 2022 – before making changes to the law that we know now would make a dramatic difference to victim-survivors. Such as extending the law to cover so-called ‘fakeporn’ and threats to distribute nude or sexual images without consent, to provide all victim-survivors with automatic anonymity, to provide victim-survivors, and those supporting them, with resources and support to enable them to provide bespoke technical and long-term emotional support.


To provide victim-survivors with increased protections, access to justice, adequate support and to prevent further lives from being shattered by this devastating form of abuse. And if the Government truly understands this, it will take action now to correct the most egregious gaps in the law, and increase support for victim-survivors.

Read the full report here


Its Abuse not Revenge Pornography – Let’s be real now!

Let’s set the record straight

Its time for a reality check and an insight into the reality of what is politically referred to as ‘Revenge Pornography’!

I can tell you first hand that the evil that was done to me was just spineless, a cruel calculated act of jealousy, done by a person that allows their emotions to control their reality, callous and vindictive it is; the way some people think they can control another person in a way that causes distress on a different level.

Well look at it this way; according to the dictionary  ‘Revenge’ means:The action of hurting or harming someone in return for an injury or wronged suffered at their hands. ‘Pornography’ means: Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity intended to stimulate sexual excitement.

So the political incorrect term of those labelled as victims of revenge pornography in essence; refers to victims who have been hurt or harmed by someone who feels they have been wronged; so they share explicit printed or visual material that display sexual organs or sexual activity to stimulate sexual excitement.

Is this sexual excitement for the perpetrator? Sexual excitement for the victim or sexual excitement for anyone that happens to come across it?

Slightly misleading don’t you think? Professor Clare McGlynn has written a brilliant article that clearly states why the name should be changed to reflect the crime.

After all abuse whether its on or offline is ABUSE!



Don’t Suffer Alone! Stand Up Speak Out

Finally for the first time in 4 years I can honestly say I don’t feel alone on this journey. Its been a struggle but perseverance has been key.

VOIC now has a Facebook Group of victims that provide peer to peer support. If you are out there with no one to talk to and no one understands then why not join our group.

It’s a safe closed space and no one will judge you. Reach out and connect and don’t suffer alone. Just click on the poster to find our group.


Call for ‘revenge porn’ victims to be kept anonymous – My Thoughts

I agree that victims should be given a choice whether to remain anonymous or be seen in the public eye

15 December 2015
Keeley Richards-Shaw
Image caption Keeley Richards-Shaw said a change in law was crucial to help victims “keep their personal life personal”

Victims of “revenge porn” should be given the same anonymity as victims of other sexual offences, campaigners say.  A petition urging a change in law has been launched by the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Julia Mulligan, and a revenge-porn victim. Keeley Richards-Shaw, whose ex-boyfriend was the first sentenced under the revenge-porn law, said media coverage had increased her distress.

The Ministry of Justice said judges had discretionary powers to withhold names. Sharing revenge-porn images and videos became a crime in England and Wales in February, but the law currently gives victims no right to anonymity.

Mrs Mulligan and Ms Richards-Shaw have written to Justice Secretary Michael Gove and the chairman of the Justice Select Committee, Bob O’Neill, requesting meetings on the issue. They have also launched an online petition called Change the Law: No More Naming of Revenge Porn Victims.

‘From bad to worse’

Ms Richards-Shaw told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme she had become involved in the campaign after her ex-boyfriend shared intimate photos he had taken without her knowledge. He was prosecuted and given a suspended jail sentence.

She said a change in law was crucial to help victims “keep their personal life personal”.

During the court case, she had told just very close family – but the day before he was to be sentenced, she received a text message saying the press were planning to cover the story .

“It just went from bad to worse,” she said. “My picture, my name, my job, they’d gone on my Facebook page and published that, they were waiting for me outside court, I had them at my doorstep the next morning. It was horrible – I had gone from being stalked by him to being stalked by the media.”

Mrs Mulligan said there was a loophole, as “revenge porn” seemed to have been categorised as a domestic abuse offence as opposed to a sexual offence.

“If you looked at it in the sexual offences category when the law was being passed, then they may have thought about anonymity.

“We really want ministers to listen to what Keeley has to say and to change the law.”

She added that some of the media had said they would not publish victims’ names, but this was not automatic.

‘Not tolerated’

The law classes “revenge porn” as “photographs or films which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public”.

It covers images shared on and offline without the subject’s permission and with the intent to cause harm. Physical distribution of images is also covered. A Ministry of Justice official said: “Revenge porn is an abuse of trust that can leave people feeling humiliated and degraded.

“By making it a specific offence, we have sent a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated and we have already seen an increase in the number of people coming forward.

“It is vital that victims have the confidence to report cases. That is why judges have discretionary powers to prohibit the naming of victims if identification would affect the case and cause undue fear or distress.”

Continue reading Call for ‘revenge porn’ victims to be kept anonymous – My Thoughts

Revenge Porn – The Independent on Sunday

The new revenge porn changes in Law! Will it make a difference? Will it change the lives of the victim but now you have to have proof that the intent was there and evidence to back it up. I have had a few victims tell me that they have got evidence and even a confession and the police are not taking up her case!

Does this mean that the buck stops with the Police as to whether they take on a case or not. Will these types of interventions encourage victims to come forward? It seems that the Police need hands on training and guidance as different forces deal with their caseloads on revenge porn in different ways. Should their not be common focused approaches to this crime? Read my opinion in the Independent on Sunday:


Launch of New Helpline for Victims

Sunday 8th  February saw the launch of a new helpline for victims of revenge porn.  This is something that I am hoping will make a huge difference and will help those who are either in fear or who are victims have someone to talk to.

RP-Helpline_logoSince the launch of the new helpline I have been inundated with requests from victims and media, it’s been overwhelming and one that I didn’t anticipate in happening when I set up this support website. It’s a good thing I presume but as there is only one of me this is the time where VOIC needs to become a collective of voices and others would speak out on behalf of VOIC.

Source: GOV.UK  Government Equalities Office The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP and the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

The specialist helpline is the latest in a series of measures taken by the government to tackle the growing problem of people sharing intimate images online as a way of seeking revenge or ridiculing individuals.

The helpline, run by South West Grid for Learning Trust, will provide callers with information on legal help available and their right to have the images removed from websites.

The helpline will liaise with law enforcement and media companies to remove content where possible, and offer details of free legal advice. It will also point individuals to additional support services, such as Women’s Aid, Stalking helpline or Relate if needed. Continue reading Launch of New Helpline for Victims

New Law – Tackling Revenge Porn Perpetrators

A new law has been passed to try and tackle the increase in the use of Non-consensual Pornography aka Revenge Porn. Is this enough?

My view is that it’s a step in the right direction. England have many laws that are not adhered too so what makes this law any different to all the others. I think nothing major will change but there will be an increase in the number of people coming forward which will make the case loads for the already under pressure Police Force immense. I think due to the nature of this new techno crime it will be hard and almost impossible for all cases to be treated fairly as different Police authorities deal with cases as they see fit.

Women that have made direct contact with me during my campaign to stand up and speak out about revenge porn have told me that there cases have not been dealt with or taken as seriously as mine was.

Avon and Somerset Police are an exemplar Police Authority who I must reiterate took very good care of my needs, they were compassionate and acted swiftly. The Trinity Road Police Station staff were very instrumental in making sure my perpetrator was taken to court and I personally thank them for understanding and caring.

imageI think we need to tackle this new tech crime at grassroots level, talks with educational establishments, schools, colleges and universities need to take place to warn of the dangers of how destructive sharing explicit photos can be. The Police Force throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland need to have first hand training on how to deal with victims and why not use the victims (those who are willing) to speak about their experiences as I am sure this will help.



Bristol man posts images of his ex online

Revenge Porn: Bristol man posted intimate images of his ex online and sent them to her new boyfriend

By The Bristol Post  |  Posted: December 03, 2014

Bristol Magistrates Court

Bristol Magistrates Court

A JILTED labourer who could not deal with rejection posted intimate images of his ex-girlfriend online and sent them to her new boyfriend.

Anastasija Mazepa was left devastated and afraid after Artuis Lobacs, 25, stalked her, bombarded her with text messages and emails, and set up a fake Facebook account under her name to post even more images.

Lobacs, of Tyndale Avenue, Fishponds was at Bristol Magistrates’ Court to be sentenced after pleading guilty to harassing Ms Mazepa between August 29 and October 12.

Richard Nicholls, prosecuting, said the relationship came to an end at the beginning of 2014 but in August she discovered he had been asking her friends and had visited her mother to ask when she would be returning to Bristol from Latvia.

After Ms Mazepa did eventually return at the end of August he located her on a bus and sat next to her.

“She explained the relationship was over and that she didn’t want him to contact her,” Mr Nicholls said.

“She went shopping but when she returned some hours after he was still waiting for her at the bus stop and followed her onto the bus.

“It was at this point he threatened her that he would send intimate photos of her to her friends and family if they didn’t get back together.

“He said effectively that she had hurt him emotionally and he would do the same to her.”

Ms Mazepa returned to Latvia but while there Lobacs sent some intimate pictures of her to her new boyfriend via Facebook the court heard.

And since the summer Lobacs had bombarded Ms Mazepa with numerous texts and emails generally asking to get back together with her but also saying he would ruin her life and destroy her new relationship.

As a result Ms Mazepa changed both her mobile phone numbers.

On one occasion her mother phoned her to say he was at her gates wanting to see her.

Lobacs continued to contact Ms Mazepa and she started to become more concerned about his conduct.

On one occasion he waited eight hours at a bus stop for her to appear and twice called at her house, knocking on windows and doors causing her to phone the police.

On October 11 she received a friend request from somebody with the same name as her and when going onto the page found semi-naked photos of her taken three years earlier, leaving her feeling sick.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Mazepa said she was scared of leaving her house on her own, struggled to sleep, and was constantly looking over her shoulder because she was terrified what he would do next.

Defending, Angela Thornton said: “He was in love with somebody. That it ended was her choice and he struggled to come to terms with that. He regrets bitterly what occurred.”

Magistrates told Lobacs: “This was nasty, vindictive behaviour that was completely unnecessary and put a young lady in fear.”

Lobacs was given a 12-month community order with 200 hours unpaid work and a three-month tagged curfew between 9pm and 6am.

An indefinite restraining order was also put in place and he must pay Ms Mazepa £100 compensation.

Revenge porn to be criminal offence with threat of two years in jail

New legislation will punish practice of sharing sexually explicit media on internet without consent, says justice secretary

Pornography website on a computer
The new offence will cover the release of explicit images online and in the form of printed pictures. 

Revenge pornography – sharing sexually explicit images of former partners without their consent – is to become a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison.

The legislation is to be introduced into the criminal justice and courts bill that is currently going through parliament, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has announced.

There has been mounting political pressure to outlaw the practice of humiliating former lovers by posting intimate pictures of them online.

Among those pressing for a change to the law has been the former culture secretary, Maria Miller. Others have argued that the problem is already covered by existing laws against obscenity or blackmail.

The new offence will cover the release of explicit images both online and in the form of printed pictures.

The justice secretary said: “The fact that there are individuals who are cruelly distributing intimate pictures of their former partners without their consent is almost beyond belief.

“We want those who fall victim to this type of disgusting behaviour to know that we are on their side and will do everything we can to bring offenders to justice.

“That is why we will change the law and make it absolutely clear to those who act in this way that they could face prison.”

The minister for women and equalities, Nicky Morgan, added: “Circulating intimate photos of an individual without their consent is never acceptable. People are entitled to expect a reasonable level of respect and privacy.

“It is right that those who do circulate these images are held to account, and that we educate young people to the hurt that can be caused by breaking this trust.”

The new legislation will mean that images posted to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter will be caught by the offence, as well as those that are shared via text message.

Images shared via email, on a website or the distribution of physical copies will also be caught, the MoJ said. Those convicted will face a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

The offence will apply to photographs or films that show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where “what is shown would not usually be seen in public”.

Other laws may still be used to prosecute the sending of sexual images such as the Communications Act 2003 or the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

Treat Revenge Porn As A Crime

We must treat revenge porn as the crime it is

Internet providers need clarity in the law to remove what should be illegal material

hand on a laptop

The Prime Minister has said that revenge pornography is an appalling offence Photo: Alamy

Is this an example of the online world running faster than the laws we live by?

Over the past six months I have spoken to numerous victims, all women, who have suffered the impact of revenge pornography. It is clear that many feel they have suffered a virtual form of sexual assault that can continue for months, or even years if the images are not tracked down and removed successfully. Work done by other organisations in the online safety world indicates that this is a problem acutely affecting gay men too. Some pictures are posted on social media websites; others are sent to bespoke “revenge porn” sites, where non-consensual photography is now a category in its own right.

Existing laws are simply not effective. Posting revenge porn is not necessarily harassment; it’s not always grossly offensive nor indecent. But it is extreme humiliation, using sex to wreck the victim’s personal life and jeopardise employment prospects in the future.

Yesterday the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) issued new guidance on posting revenge pornography online. In publishing this new guidance, the DPP has acknowledged that the law is far from clear. But we knew that already. Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, who leads the investigation of harassment and stalking in England and Wales, has said clearly that revenge pornography is not of itself a crime in this country.

I welcome anything that can help victims who have suffered for too long without any protection – but nothing short of a change in the law will send a clear and unambiguous message to the perpetrators that this is a criminal offence which merits a serious criminal sanction.

In the US, numerous states have been forced to pass legislation to protect private citizens from the growing problem of revenge pornography. The same is true in Canada and Israel. It really is now time for the British Parliament to act, too.

In July, when I raised the issue directly with the Prime Minister, he acknowledged that revenge pornography is an appalling offence and that it “clearly has criminal intent”. The Lord Chancellor himself has recognised that it is becoming a bigger problem in society and that appropriate action may need to be taken.

Most victims just want the material to be removed so they can get on with their lives, but internet service providers need clarity in the law so they can have protocols in place for removing what should be illegal material.

In October there is an opportunity to give that clarity and make a change in the law, to send a message loud and clear to the perpetrators of this horrendous crime that in posting such images online they risk a serious criminal record. The Justice and Sentencing Bill has to be amended as it passes through the Lords to make posting revenge pornography a criminal offence.

Maria Miller is a former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport