Revenge porn is on the rise.
Revenge porn is on the rise.

Australia’s shocking revenge porn rate

DISTURBING new figures have revealed that one in 10 Australians have admitted to taking part in 'revenge porn'.

An online survey conducted by RMIT University of more than 4200 people, aged 16 to 49, revealed for the first time just how common this kind of abuse is in Australia.

RMIT researchers found nearly nine per cent of survey participants had taken a nude or sexual photo or video of someone else without their consent, while more than six per cent had shared or distributed one.

 

Staggering: One in every 10 Australians have committed revenge porn and that is just a “conservative figure”. Picture: istock
Staggering: One in every 10 Australians have committed revenge porn and that is just a “conservative figure”. Picture: istock

The landmark study also found:

- Men were significantly more likely than women to admit to the act;

- Those that did it were more likely to share photos or videos of people they knew such as a partner, ex-partner, friend or family member;

- Lesbian, gay and bisexual survey participants were more likely than heterosexual participants to engage in image-based sexual abuse.

The ease of technology is driving the disturbing trend. Picture: Supplied
The ease of technology is driving the disturbing trend. Picture: Supplied

RMIT Vice-Chancellor's research fellow and chief investigator Associate Professor Nicola Henry told News Corp Australia the finding was a "conservative figure" compared to what is actually happening out there.

She said the convenience of technology was driving the disturbing trend.

"I think there are opportunities that digital technologies provide," she said.

"There is anonymity, lack of guardianship to prevent victims from being targeted, and the ease with which you can take a photo and download it and share with others."

Associate Professor Henry said the abuse was often committed as a form of revenge to punish a partner or an ex, or in domestic violence situations to make a partner stay in a relationship.

But in other cases it was done simply to show off.

Henry says education programs need to target older aged groups, not just school aged children. Picture: istock
Henry says education programs need to target older aged groups, not just school aged children. Picture: istock

Co-author and RMIT Associate Professor in Criminology and Justice studies Anastasia Powell said a number of measures were needed to address image-based sexual abuse.

"While people do still tend to blame the victims, there is also widespread agreement in the community that perpetration of image-based abuse should be a crime, which shows that Australians take these harms very seriously," Powell said.

"We need nationally consistent laws, support and information for victims, as well as consistent action by social media and website providers."

Revenge porn is not a criminal offence but federal parliament last year passed legislation allowing for "civil penalties".

Under the legislation, corporations can be fined up to AU$105,000 and individuals up to AU$525,000 if they do not remove an image when requested to by the eSafety commissioner.

 

Revenge porn is used in domestic violence situations to make a partner stay in a relationship. Picture: istock
Revenge porn is used in domestic violence situations to make a partner stay in a relationship. Picture: istock

Previous RMIT research found one in every five Australians were victims of revenge porn.

That research also showed that many survey respondents held victim-blaming attitudes towards image-based sexual abuse.

More than 70 per cent of survey respondents agreed with the statement that "people should know better than to take nude selfies in the first place".

However, four out of five Australians (81 per cent) agreed with the statement "it should be a crime for someone to share a nude or sexual image of another person without that person's permission".

Since October 2017, the eSafety Office has received 693 reports of image-based abuse and we are seeing a steady increase of reports each month.

A spokesman for the eSafety Commissioner told News Corp Australia victims of image-based abuse are predominately female, except in reports of sextortion, where victims are predominately male.

"Some of the other behaviours we've observed from reports we've received are anonymous sharing, threatened sharing of intimate images including as relationship retribution, and image-based abuse in the context of domestic or family violence," it said in a statement.

Australians who experience image-based abuse can report it to the eSafety Office and action can be taken to have the images or video removed.

To date, the eSafety Office has had a success rate of more than 80 per cent in having content removed where requested.

"Under the civil penalties scheme the eSafety Office administers, removal notices can be given to social media services, websites, hosting providers and perpetrators enforcing the removal of intimate material," it stated.

"Penalties for failing to comply with a request from the eSafety Commissioner to remove an intimate image can include fines of up to $105,000 for individuals and up to $525,000 for corporations."

Australians who have had their intimate images or videos shared online without their consent are encouraged to report it to esafety.gov.au/iba.

 

IF YOU SHARED AN INTIMATE IMAGE WITHOUT CONSENT:

These steps may go some way towards reducing the damage you have caused:

*Delete the image from your phone, hard drive or any other device.

*If you have posted a nude or sexual image without another person's consent on social media or other websites, remove it immediately.

*Ask people you have shared the image with to delete it immediately. If they have shared the image ask them to contact others to also delete it, and to remove it from websites where it has been posted.

*Don't pass the image onto anyone else.

*Challenge any bullying towards the victim that may happen after you shared the image. Tell the people bullying that you were the one in the wrong, not the person in the image.

*If you know the person in the image, tell them you are sorry. Ask what you can do to help.