Research: Bi people targets for ‘revenge porn’

New research from the USA suggests that bisexual, lesbian and gay people are four times more likely to be the victims of ‘revenge porn’ than heterosexual people are.

A report from the Center for Innovative Public Health Research suggests 1 in 25 internet users in the USA have been a victim of revenge porn – a surprisingly high figure. The report explains the term as meaning,

“Nonconsensual image sharing, also commonly called “revenge porn,” is when someone shows, sends,or posts nude or nearly nude photos or videos of someone else without the consent of the personpictured.”

Even if the images are not shared the threat that they will be can wreak emotional havoc for people affected. The report outlines the impacts:

“The harms from nonconsensual image sharing can be substantial; a single act of posting sensitive images can cause lasting and ongoing reputational damage to victims. These images are often posted alongside personally-identifying information about the victim when they are posted in online spaces, which can lead to additional harassment and threats from third parties.”

In a wider culture of biphobia and homophobia, this obviously has additional implications for bi and gay people. And we are more likely to be victims – nearly four times more likely:

“Among internet users who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), 15% say someone has threatened to sharea nude or nearly-nude photo or video of them without their permission, a far higher rate than among heterosexual internet users (2%).

 

“In addition, 7% of LGB respondents have had someone share a nude or nearly nude image of them, compared with 2% of heterosexual internet users.

 

“Taken together, 17% of LGB Americans have either had an image shared without their consent or have had someone threaten to share an image of them”

The data shows that victims are most likely to be younger (late teens or twenties) women. Those from lower income homes are also significantly more likely to be victims.

Here in the UK legislation was passed to help address the problem under the last government, but the US lacks equivalent laws, so there is more limited redress for victims. There is also a UK helpline if you need advice – 03456 000 459 – and a website. It’s a big problem in the UK despite the legislation – the helpline gets contacted more than 4,000 times a year.

Like all too many such reports, the research paper sadly does not separate out bi experience from that of gay and lesbian people – the sample sizes when broken down by strand are too small to produce statistically valid results. It seems likely bi people may be at greater risk – if there is a greater chance for bi people that a current partner may not know about past sexual activity with partners of a different gender from themselves, or has expressed biphobia to them.