advertisement
advertisement

Shocking study finds 1 in 3 are victims of ‘revenge porn’ or image-based sexual abuse

Shocking study finds 1 in 3 are victims of ‘revenge porn’ or image-based sexual abuse
[Photo: Wilhelm Gunkel/Unsplash]

You might want to think twice before sending those nude snapshots to your sweetie—or before videotaping a partner doing anything unclothed.

advertisement

That’s one takeaway from an ongoing study of nude image abuse in Australia, the U.K., and New Zealand, where more than one in three people have been victims of nude image abuse, up from one in five in 2016. The rates of abuse were similar across all three countries, ranging from 35-39%.

The new international findings extend upon an Australian survey conducted last year by the Australian Institute of Criminology. According to that report, about three in four respondents had engaged in “digital dating behaviors,” and nearly half said they had participated in “voluntary sexual self-image behaviors” such as sharing photos or videos. Alarmingly, the percentage who reported abusive behaviors was nearly as high. About 29% of respondents described feeling pressured to share sexual images, and about 39% said they had experienced image-based harassment.

Perhaps most disturbing is the link between nonconsensual image creation and distribution. In cases where people said they had a nude or sexual images taken without their consent, that image was also distributed without their consent nearly half the time.

The three-country study is the first to look at “image-based sexual abuse,” which includes taking nude or sexual photos or videos without consent, threatening to take them, or sharing them. Though so-called “revenge porn” has received a lot of public attention—roughly 8% of American women are victims—the majority of abuse is not committed by former sexual partners seeking revenge, but by domestic abusers, stalkers, hackers, and those trying to manipulate, control, or extort peers or celebrities. The authors of the study are quick to note that while the term “revenge porn” has helped bring attention to the issue, it is a media-generated label that “fails to capture the diverse range of context in which this abuse occurs.”

The incidence of these forms of sexual abuse appears to be driven by a growing number of abusers, not an increase in consensual selfies. As lead author Anastasia Powell explains, “it’s not victim behavior driving the rise in abuse, but rather the actions of perpetrators.” Three years ago, 1 in 10 respondents in the Australian survey self-reported themselves as perpetrators of abuse; now that number is one in six. The real number is almost certainly higher.

While men and women reported being victimized at similar rates, the statistics prove that some populations are more vulnerable than others. According to the report, people aged 20-29 were most likely to be victims. Disabled or LGBTQ individuals were also more likely to experience abuse. And men were more likely to be perpetrators.

The researchers emphasize that victims need support, regardless of what the images capture. “We need community attitudes to change, so that we place the blame and shame on the perpetrator, not on the victim,” said coauthor Asher Flynn, an associate professor of criminology at Monash University.

Here’s what to do if it happens to you.

advertisement
advertisement