Share

It is not all about “revenge porn” – image-based abuse is more common than you think

There is a dirty practice called “revenge porn”. People, unhappy about break-ups or having some other issues, decide to release images of pornographic nature to the internet, in efforts to hurt their romantic partners. You may think it is uncommon, but a new study from RMIT University and Monash University revealed that 1 in 5 people suffered from image-based abuse in Australia. And that is only the beginning of the story.

Image-based abuse often causes depression, anxiety, fearfulness for society and other psychological problems. Image credit: Wikimedia

If 1 in 5 does not look too dramatic for you, you should know that numbers are 1 in 2 for Indigenous Australians and 1 in 2 for people with a disability. Not all of these cases involve “revenge porn”, most of them are: taking sexual or nude images without consent (20 %), distributing images without consent (11 %) and threatening to share images (9 %). Scientists also looked into the ways people have been affected by image abuse and they say that the trend is really worrying.

Researchers surveyed 4200 people in this study and made several important findings. First of all, image abuse (and definitely not just “revenge porn”) is much more common than people generally think it is. It is because we think about only the most extreme cases that go viral. For example, people releasing intimate images on social networks. But a lot of real-life cases happen quietly – people share images in private circles or threaten to do so. Secondly, scientists now know that it causes a wide variety of psychological problems: distress, consistent with moderate to severe depression and/or anxiety disorder, (80 %), depression, anxiety and fearfulness for safety.

Finally, law makers are not involved enough to punish perpetrators. Dr Anastasia Powell said: “We need to rethink our approach both from a legal perspective but also as a community, to change attitudes that often blame the victims and play down the very real harm caused by image-based abuse”. Furthermore, social media companies should get involved in prevention of image abuse too. It is all happening there and usually social media companies do not react, if the image itself is not reported quickly or does not violate user agreement.

Scientists say that it is likely that these findings still underestimated the extent of image-based abuse. It is a massive problem that has to be addressed as soon as possible. But people should be more careful too – personal images have to be protected, people should not allow others to take intimate pictures of them.

 

Source: RMIT University

Comment this news or article