News & Opinion | September 21, 2020 10:45 am

Pandemic-Era Revenge Porn Is Still a Major Problem Amid Ongoing COVID Crisis

Is revenge porn the new normal?

revenge porn
Lockdowns may be lifting, but pandemic revenge porn is still a major problem.
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Troubling reports that revenge porn was on the rise amid the coronavirus pandemic surfaced earlier this year, with the U.K.-based Revenge Porn Helpline reporting a major spike in cases since the pandemic began. Several months later, the COVID-era revenge porn problem doesn’t appear to have improved much, and activists now fear intimate photo abuse is on its way to becoming part of “the new normal.”

“The lockdown produced an extreme set of circumstances which are bringing a lot of problems,” David Wright, the director of the UK Safer Internet Center, told BBC News. “What we are seeing here, however, suggests something more long-term has happened which could mean we will be busier than ever before. It’s worrying to think this could be the new normal.”

The Revenge Porn Helpline has reportedly seen more than 2,000 cases of intimate photo violence in 2020, representing a 22 percent increase from 2019. Two-thirds of the cases reported in 2020 involved women, prompting activists to characterize the revenge porn surge as one of many women’s issues that have seen an increase in severity during the pandemic.

The spike in revenge porn began back in March, when the number of people seeking help from the Revenge Porn Helpline nearly doubled in the first week of lockdown in the UK. By mid-April, the crisis center reported its highest number of cases in a single week since 2015, when revenge porn was first made a criminal offense.

“People are vulnerable in lockdown,” Sophie Mortimer, manager of the helpline, told Dazed back in May. “Either with their abuser, or alone and cut off from networks of personal support and the availability of services. Others are making new online contacts, and sometimes people are not who they say they are, so we have seen a rise in cases of sextortion.”

Unfortunately, while lockdowns may be easing up in many places, the pandemic-era revenge porn crisis, not unlike the virus itself, appears to be an ongoing problem.

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