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Image-based sexual abuse not limited to vengeance, rising rapidly

Image-based sexual abuse is the non-consensual taking, sharing or threatening to share nude or sexual images of a person, including the use of digitally-altered imagery.

IANS IANS
New Delhi Published on: February 21, 2020 16:22 IST
revenge porn

Men were more likely than women to be perpetrators, the study said.

Image-based sexual abuse, also known as 'revenge porn' is not limited to jilted ex-lovers out for vengeance, say researchers, adding that it is also used by perpetrators in stalking and sexual harassment.

Image-based sexual abuse is the non-consensual taking, sharing or threatening to share nude or sexual images of a person, including the use of digitally-altered imagery.

"We found that image-based sexual abuse is used by perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual assault, in stalking and sexual harassment, as well as in threats and bullying by peers and other known people," said study lead author Anastasia Powell from RMIT in Australia.

"Not only this, but we found high numbers of victims had never consented to have their image taken," Powell added.

A survey of more than 2,000 Australians found that one in three had been victims of image-based abuse, compared with one in five in 2016.

The survey also found the perpetration of image-based abuse had increased, with one in sic people surveyed reporting they had taken, shared or made threats to share a nude or sexual image of a person without that person's consent, compared with one in 10 of those surveyed in 2016.

The findings are detailed in a new report Image-Based Sexual Abuse: An International Study of Victims and Perpetrators, which presents the results of the first cross-national survey on image-based sexual abuse, conducted in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in 2019.

According to the researchers, the survey of 2,054 Australians aged 16-64 also found that young people were twice as likely as those aged over 40 to be victims of image-based sexual abuse, with those aged between 20 and 29 years the most likely group to be victims.

Men and women reported a similar frequency of victimisation, but women experienced higher levels of harm from the abuse, including being more than twice as likely as men to report being fearful for their safety from the perpetrator.

Men were more likely than women to be perpetrators, the study said.

Perpetrators reported that their reasons for the abuse included for fun, to flirt or be sexy, to impress friends or trade images, to control, embarrass, and/or get back at the person in the image.

According to the researchers, the most common sites for distribution were social media, email and mobile messages.

Rates of image-based sexual abuse victimisation were similar across Australia (35.2 per cent), UK (39 per cent) and New Zealand (39 per cent).

"Our interviews with victims uncovered cases of people being photographed or filmed without their knowledge in the shower, while sleeping, over Skype and during sex," Powell said.

"We also found no increase in people sending consensual sexy selfies. All this suggests it's not victim behaviour driving the rise in abuse, but rather the actions of perpetrators," Powell added.

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