Sunday 26 February 2017

'There was nothing the guards could do for me' - victim of revenge porn speaks out

Daire Courtney

Daire Courtney

A victim of revenge porn who spoke out about her experience earlier this year has said today’s Law Reform Commission Report, which proposes banning ‘revenge porn’, is an “amazing” step towards justice for victims.

‘Jane’ had been broken up with her ex-boyfriend for about four years when she discovered last February that he had put sexually explicit pictures and a video of her online.

“I wound up being completely shocked and disgusted and I had to go to the guards about it, who were absolutely incredible, but unfortunately as we found out there’s no law in place at the moment to protect people like myself from that kind of act,” she told Sean O’Rourke this morning.

This morning, a report by the Law Reform Commission proposed a new set of tough laws to deal with online harassment including explicit images or video uploaded without the victim’s consent, also known as ‘revenge porn’, as well as online bullying, cyber stalking and online intimidation.

Jane thinks the proposed new laws would be a hugely positive step for cases like hers. “I think it’s absolutely amazing, I think it’s fantastic that they have put this forward. The phrasing of it seems to cover absolutely everything. I think it’s going to benefit so many victims.”

The report recommends a maximum sentence of seven years for those convicted of uploading ‘revenge porn’, but Jane is uncertain that this is enough for victims.

“I think it kind of depends on the emotional and psychological affect that it has on the victim. I don’t think seven years is sufficient based on the long-term psychological affect that it’s had on me, anyway. But I’m sure that a lot of thought and consideration has gone into the seven years.”

In an earlier interview with independent.ie in July of this year, four months after she had discovered the website, Jane was still reeling from the discovery.

"My immediate reaction was to throw up, because how do you process that? It was a complete violation of everything.”

Jane’s ex had been replying to comments on the pictures, pretending to be the woman in them: “These were very explicit, vulgar messages and that completely turned my stomach," she said.

"It made me feel disgusting and completely vulnerable. I was terrified, shocked, numb. How could someone I trusted betray me in such a heinous way?" she added. "I completely broke down that night. I couldn't sleep; the images were racing around my head."

The report includes a draft bill which will be put before the Oireachtas for consideration. It is broadly intended to fill legal gaps like that of revenge porn, but also emphasises stalking as a crime above and beyond harassment.

Professor Donncha O’Connell, Commissioner of the Law Reform Commission, told Sean O’Rourke this morning that the bill should not be difficult to get through the Oireachtas, but warned that the proposed new Digital Safety Commissioner would need to be properly resourced in order to do their job.

 

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