'I was betrayed' - Woman's 'devastation' after intimate images shared by ex
- Credit: PA
A Norwich woman has spoken about her sense of "betrayal" after an ex-partner shared intimate images of her online without her knowledge.
The woman, called Georgie, and whose surname is not being disclosed to protect her identity, only found out about the images in May 2020 after she was contacted by a stranger on social media.
It has now been three years since her relationship ended, and Georgie, who is in her late 20s, continued to speak to her former partner as a friend prior to the discovery last year.
"When I found out an ex-partner had been sharing private images of me, I was devastated," Georgie said. "Someone I loved and trusted for many years had lied, manipulated and betrayed me.
"I reported him to the police in May 2020 and following a drawn-out investigation that included a confession from the man in question, the police weren’t able to convict or even caution him."
Georgie had received a text from her former partner during the police investigation, in which he admitted he had shared the images, but claimed he was not doing it to hurt her.
As a result, she hopes to raise awareness for others who may find themselves in a similar situation as there is a legislative clause that denied justice to anyone where intent to harm wasn’t seemingly present.
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Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 creates the offence of disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress, commonly referred to as 'revenge porn'.
But without reasonable proof to show intent, Georgie says intimate images can legally be sent for sexual gratification, financial gain, secret humiliation or just "for fun".
Georgie compared the situation to drink-driving where it is an offence to get behind the wheel while intoxicated even if that person does not intend to hurt anyone.
She said she is not calling for anyone to be thrown in prison, but seeks to raise awareness about the issue.
Georgie said she also wants to speak up because she does not want someone else to control her story, and that she should not feel ashamed by it.
She said: "His purely selfish actions have and will continue to affect my life for years to come, and without any consequences, there is every possibility he will do it again. The law is not good enough.
"I do struggle to believe why he would share the images. It just seems separate to common sense that it should ever enter your brain.
"It is still definitely raw speaking to people about it as it does bring up the vulnerabilities again. I knew him for a long time and trusted him, so moving forward with romantic relationships, there are now a lot of difficulties for me. I am still discovering the consequences."
"It seems as though it could have been happening for a long time," Georgie continued.
"It's very easy to go on the internet and download a copy to keep. This could have been going on for ages as far as I know. Some of the websites are not even based in the UK."
Georgie would like to see enhanced education, in the same way someone would go on a speed awareness course for an offence.
And she hopes schools increase teaching on relationships and consent as part of the curriculum moving forward.
"When I was at school, I do not think there was much emphasis on how to be a decent human being," Georgie said. "We have got a bit better in terms of accepting more sexualities and genders but there is still a long way to go."
The Ministry of Justice has launched a law commission survey on intimate image abuse which runs until May 27, 2021. Anyone can fill in the survey which is available at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/law-commission/summary_intimate_image_abuse/consultation/intro/