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KISS AND TELL – REVENGE PORN HELL

It is now just 3 years since the law was overhauled to make so-called ‘revenge porn’ a criminal offence. This is a kind of 21st century version of ‘kiss and tell’ whereby intimate videos and pictures of a sexual nature, made for private purposes, between consenting partners, have been published for wider consumption, without the other party’s consent, usually following a separation, or break-down in the relationship. This is the ultimate example of bad behaviour, and breach of trust, from a vengeful ex, usually done out of spite, jealousy or malice, to cause embarrassment to the victim. Shockingly, a CPS report has highlighted that some victims of revenge porn have been as young as 11 years old. In many cases, the victim is psychologically affected and may even contemplate suicide. The offence is most usually perpetrated by males, and often forms part of the almost encyclopaedic catalogue of domestic abuse. The maximum penalty is 5 years custody.

In 2016, the year following the creation of the new offence, more than 200 people were prosecuted, however the number of complaints was almost 10 times that number. The new offence coincided with the advent of another new offence, ‘exerting controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship’ (maximum sentence 5 years custody). The use of the internet to control victims is rising – particularly in cases which involve teenagers and young adults. However, the number of successful prosecutions for the controlling behaviour offence was a paltry total of 5 in 2015, and  only 1 in 6 of arrests for this offence result in a prosecution. It is important that more is done to a) raise the awareness of these offences, b) put in place mechanisms so that victims can report incidents with confidence, but also c) to put in place viable strategies to ensure that perpetrators are successfully prosecuted.

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