What it feels like to be a victim of revenge porn


By ITV news Central Journalist Lucy Kapasi

Ellesha's story

"It was blind panic, I had no idea what I was going to be faced with when I watched them, it made my heart sink, and my stomach, it really upset me. It'll have a long lasting impact."

Ellesha didn't even know she'd been filmed.

She was on holiday with her parents when a message landed on her phone, warning her there were intimate images of her online.

"It was horrific...to watch them, and realise it's yourself."

She says it will affect her forever.

"It's affected my trust, it's affected my self-confidence, my self-worth, and I think I will always Google myself now. I do it every few days, I can't help myself, to just check there's nothing on there that I don't know about. I think that's going to happen for a long time to come."

She told the police, and was forced to download the videos herself to hand over as evidence, as the site was blocked on the force's servers.


Ruby's story

"There's this horrible website and there's indecent, explicit and private images on this website...unfortunately there's some of you on there."

Ruby got this text from a friend last year.

The pictures were taken from a private Facebook album she'd created after a holiday 10 years ago, when she was just 17.

Her photos weren't as explicit as many on the site, but showed her joking around with friends while wearing a small towel, or without a bikini top, and she'd only wanted to share them with those she chose to. It felt like a betrayal.

"I was a bit shaken, thinking who's done this? It must be someone I know, someone I would consider enough of a friend to have on my private Facebook. I just felt a bit betrayed I guess.

"People that say she shouldn't have taken the photos anyway, that's not the point, someone took those and without consent shared them for the whole world to see."

When she reported it to the police, an officer told her she was the 30th person in 24 hours to report an incident like this.



There's been a huge rise in this kind of crime. The Revenge Porn Helpline has seen a surge in the number of people its supported in the pandemic.


Sophie Mortimer from the Revenge Porn Helpline urged victims not to panic and to confide in someone as it's a devastating thing to go through alone.

The charity Refuge created a video where celebrities make an appeal to the Home Secretary, asking her to make the threat to share images a punishable crime.

That is now about to become law. 


More than 45,000 people have signed a petition by My Image My Choice calling for a change in the law. Sophie Compton who set up the organisation and the petition says she believes most young women are likely to know someone who has been affected by this crime.

Kate Isaacs who runs campaign group Not Your Porn is calling for better regulation of the global porn industry.

What does the law say?

Revenge porn has been a crime since 2015.

Since then more than 900 abusers have been convicted.

Those found guilty can face up to two years in prison - so far 190 of those convicted went straight to jail.

What else could change?

A Law Commission review is proposing creating four new offences.

These would remove the need to prove that the perpetrator meant to cause distress.

It is this need to prove motive that can make it difficult to get a prosecution.

It also recommends life-long anonymity for victims - something they are not currently entitled to as it's classed as a communications offence, not a sexual one.

Ruby says, "People should be able to behave how they want, and the people stealing these images and exploiting them, the law should focus on them."

Ellesha says even the phrase 'revenge porn' makes it sound like the victim has done something wrong. Often people don't know they've been filmed, and even if they do - they haven't consented to it being shared worldwide.

The government also say that under the Online Safety Bill, which will be ready this year, platforms will be required to take action to prevent explicit illegal content circulating and make sure it is taken down quickly.

If they fail to do so, they could face enforcement action including fines of up to 10% of their annual turnover.