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Understanding revenge pornography: public perceptions of revenge pornography and victim blaming

Sarah Bothamley (Centre for Forensic and Family Psychology, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Ruth J. Tully (Centre for Forensic and Family Psychology, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK) (Tully Forensic Psychology Ltd, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Article publication date: 17 August 2017

Issue publication date: 15 December 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The disclosure of private images with the intent of causing distress is often described as “revenge pornography”. In the UK, this newly legislated crime has received a high level of media attention following several high profile cases, however, there is a paucity of research in this area. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 168 adults (UK general public) completed an online survey using a vignette approach. Views of the influence of perpetrator-victim relationship length and reason for termination were considered alongside perception of an offence, the necessity of police intervention, what extent revenge pornography creates psychological harm in victims, and victim blaming.

Findings

Perpetrator-victim relationship length and reason for relationship breakdown did not influence perceptions of victim blame. Participants believed that the situation described in the vignettes was likely to be an offence, and that police intervention is somewhat necessary. Participants believed that the scenario was “very likely” to create fear, and “moderately likely” to create psychological/mental harm in victims. In line with the literature relating to stalking and sexual assault, men blamed the victim significantly more than women. Furthermore, women rated police intervention as significantly more necessary than men.

Research limitations/implications

The public are recognising that revenge pornography is an offence, with consequences being fear and psychological harm, showing an awareness of the impact on victims. However, there are sex differences in the perceptions of revenge pornography and victim blaming, and this could be addressed by raising awareness of this crime. This research, which highlights that the public are aware of some of the harm caused, may encourage victims in coming forward to report such a crime.

Originality/value

There is a paucity of research into revenge pornography, and this study is one of the first in this area.

Keywords

Citation

Bothamley, S. and Tully, R.J. (2018), "Understanding revenge pornography: public perceptions of revenge pornography and victim blaming", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-09-2016-0253

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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