Star of Love Island season 3, Georgia Harrison, has spoken out following ex-boyfriend Stephen Bear's revenge porn arrest on Friday 15 January. Stephen stands accused of filming himself and Georgia having sex without her knowledge via the use of CCTV and later sharing the intimate footage online (something he has repeatedly denied) and sending it to at least two friends over WhatsApp.
Shortly after his arrest at Heathrow airport, where he had landed post a trip to Dubai, Bear was released on bail. Following that, Georgia told The Sun, "I am passionate about supporting victims of revenge porn and hopefully by coming forward it will give others the courage to do the same."
She continued, "At this time I am unable to comment on the recent events due to the ongoing criminal investigation. I am passionate about supporting victims of revenge porn and hopefully by coming forward it will give others the courage to do the same."
Stephen has accused Georgia of accusing him for "clout" and dismissed the allegations as "silly".
Essex Police said of the incident: "A 31-year-old man from Loughton, who was arrested on suspicion of disclosing private sexual images or film without consent with intent to cause distress, voyeurism, harassment and obstructing a police officer, has been released on bail until 10 February."
Speaking about the impact that revenge porn can have on victims, Lisa King, Director of Communications and External Relations at Refuge (a charity to support victims of abuse), said, "Sharing intimate images without consent is a far-reaching crime that happens to women across society. A perpetrator sharing images of a woman they know personally could include images obtained non-consensually, or images that a woman shared with the perpetrator in the belief they would be kept private."
She adds that images that were shared consensually – as part of an intimate relationship – should never be used to abuse, and that nobody should be blamed, or made to feel guilty or ashamed if this happens to them. "That includes whether the images were stolen, coerced, or sent willingly," King added. "Neither should they be told that the solution is to change their behaviour in order to prevent this from happening."
King was keen to stress that the common denominator in all of these scenarios is the perpetrator abusing their partner or ex. "Refuge frontline staff report that the women in our services are experiencing multiple forms of image-based abuse on an ever-increasing basis. This also includes threats to share intimate images, which is not yet a criminal offence, meaning many women won't report it to the police despite it having a devastating impact on their safety and wellbeing."
Last year, Refuge found that some 4.4 million people had experienced this type of threat in England and Wales alone, with 83% of women saying it had a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing. More than 1 in 10 reported feeling suicidal because of a threat to leak explicit pictures or videos of them, and 1 in 7 felt more at risk of physical violence.
"The sharing and threats to share intimate images are being recorded at a higher rate by other services in the sector too; in September last year, the Revenge Porn Helpline reported its busiest year on record," says King. "It's vital that women experiencing image-based abuse feel empowered to report it to the police, in the knowledge that they will be believed, and their experiences will be taken seriously."
She's urging the Government to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill, currently making its way through the House of Lords, to make threats to share intimate images a criminal offence. "Only then will the gaps in law and policing begin to close and allow women better access to the protection they so desperately need."
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