Tech

190,000 NZers may be victims of revenge porn – research

Nearly 190,000 New Zealanders have been the victim of revenge porn, according to new research.

young and depressed worker or student woman working with computer laptop alone late at night in stress suffering internet bullying victim of social network

Image based sexual abuse is more common among young adults.
Photo: 123rf

A first-of-its-kind survey by Netsafe has found 5 percent of adults have had other people post intimate images of them online or threaten to do so.

Young adults under 30 were most likely to be victimised in this way – but all age groups were affected, with some victims aged 70 and older.

Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker said the impact and harm from revenge porn and online sexual abuse can cause should not be underestimated.

“Image based sexual abuse cases are some of the worst that our helpline sees in terms of the harmful impact that the abuse can have on a person,” he said.

“When people come to us for advice or help getting content removed, we often find that they feel exposed and humiliated to the point where it’s seriously affecting their everyday lives.”

The research shows men and women are both as likely to be affected but experience different forms of online sexual abuse such as “sextortion” blackmail and intimidation.

“Reports from men tend to be about sextortion, where they’ve engaged in sexual activity online with strangers which has been recorded and they are then being extorted for money,” Mr Cocker said.

“Typical image based sexual abuse reports from adult women tend to involve an ex-partner trying to maintain control, blackmail them or as retaliation for leaving the relationship. Sometimes these cases are part of a wider pattern of family violence.”

Under the Harmful Digital Communications Act in New Zealand, image based sexual abuse or revenge porn can be an offence regardless of whether the intimate content was initially sent consensually or created consensually with another person.

Penalties for the offence can be a fine of up to $50,000 or up to two years’ jail for an individual, and up to $200,000 for a body corporate.

The survey was conducted by Colmar Brunton from a nationwide, representative sample of 1001 adults.

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