Revenge porn perps’ sick new act

 

Sextortion and revenge porn are on the rise, Australia's online safety agency has warned, despite the threat of fines up to $105,000 and new laws to outlaw the growing scourge.

The research, to be released this week, arrived as the eSafety Commission revealed revenge porn reports had soared to more than 1400 incidents reported over the past two years.

This includes an increased incidence of "downblousing" which involved photographing a person's breasts and sharing it online.

Some individual cases saw degrading images published on more than 300 web pages.

The abusers' lack of guilt also put them at high risk of reoffending, according to the world-first study into image-based abuse to be released today.

RMIT associate professor Dr Nicola Henry, who co-authored the study, told News Corp it identified five types of abusers.

Some cases saw degrading images posted on more than 300 web pages.
Some cases saw degrading images posted on more than 300 web pages.

The abusers range from relationship-based perpetrators motivated by retribution, to those wanting to boost their social status by sharing compromising images of victims.

The study showed most perpetrators were men, most were aged between 16 and 25 years old, and most expressed little remorse for their actions.

One interviewee, who claimed he didn't want to seem like a "heartless bloke" told researchers "it seemed like a fun thing to do at the time" and he was "not losing any sleep over it".

Dr Henry said some of the 16 accused perpetrators interviewed also blamed their victims to try to "deny their culpability".

"They also try to normalise their behaviour, as if everyone is doing this and therefore what they're doing isn't wrong," she said.

"We see a similar mentality in other sexual offences as well, like sexual harassment or sexual assault, where perpetrators do tend to blame the victim, have little remorse, and have little insight into the impact of their behaviour."

But Dr Henry warned that image-based abuse was proved to have far-reaching affects on those whose images were shared, causing anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and impacts on employment.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the study's findings showed more action was needed to tackle image-based abuse in Australia, including raising awareness of new Commonwealth and state laws outlawing the act.

"It's really upsetting that across the board these perps showed little remorse and seemed to resent being held to account, which suggests to us that reoffending is likely," she said.

"This also suggests to us that exercising these civil powers is very important. There needs to be more awareness that there are repercussions and there are a range of civil and criminal penalties that are now available."

New federal laws passed in August last year allow the eSafety Commission to order the removal of "revenge porn" under threat of fines up to $105,000 for individuals and $525,000 for businesses.

Perpetrators could face up to five years in jail under the Criminal Code for transmitting private sexual content.

Ms Inman Grant said the Commission had issued three formal warnings, one removal notice, and eight informal warnings about image-based abuse under the new laws, but warned more action against perpetrators was "coming".

Victims can report cases of image-based abuse to the eSafety Commission online: esafety.gov.au/image-based-abuse.



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