Life Abuse and Hate Crime Sex online: consent still counts We are currently in lockdown. This means the avenues for hook-ups are limited and rightly restricted (unless you live with your partner and you enjoy having sex with them). More and more of us are going online to get our sex fix. Porn is a great distraction but sometimes you want to interact with someone ‘real’. This is where cam sex and swapping pictures on apps comes in. Unfortunately, the digital ghost of your nudes and ‘shows’ can come back to haunt you, as images can get saved and shared, screens can get recorded, and often without the consent of the picture or video’s subject. This can be damaging, not only to someone’s daily life, but to someone’s mental health, and is a huge breach of trust and privacy. Ian Howley, Chief Executive of LGBT HERO the parent organisation of GMFA said, “Just because you share your pictures or videos with another person, does not mean you give up ownership of these images. Sharing someone’s nudes or videos without their consent is all about power. When you send someone a pic or video or when they screenshot your images, it’s all about control and power. It makes the person on the other end of the phone feel like they have something over you. How you feel about what they do with those images doesn’t matter to them. When they share them with others or online, they are not doing it to hurt you, but to feel a sense of inner power. Most know it’s wrong or illegal but the rush they get from doing it outweighs any logical thinking. In other words, they do it because they can and feel there won’t be any consequences.” GMFA conducted a survey of over 200 gay and bisexual men about this subject: WE ASKED: Has anyone ever shared a naked picture or video of you without your permission? 46% said yes 54% said no. WE ASKED: Are you now more reluctant to share naked pictures of yourself? 62% said yes 29% said no 9% were unsure. WE ASKED: Who leaked your photos? 35% said a hook-up 27% said and ex 21% said a friend 17% said a stranger 10% said a social media follower 4% said a current partner. WE ASKED: Where was it shared? 62% said on a gay sex app 45% said by WhatsApp or message 38% said in person 31% said on social media 24% said a porn site 17% said on a blog/website 10% said by email 10% said on a forum Ian Howley, comments; “Research has shown that when someone shares your nudes online or with others it’s a similar feeling to being groped or sexually assaulted. The feeling of being violated or exposed can have a huge negative effect on those whose images and videos are being shared. And what we see are similar consequences, in relation to someone experiencing sexual assault, with lots of gay men going through depression, self-worth issues and even suicide attempts. And this is what’s not being talked about.” Ian further adds, “Consent is just as important when it comes to images of you as it is when you have sexual contact with someone. When someone violates that consent it can impact your self-esteem and self-worth. It’s important that victims of revenge porn are treated the same way as someone who has been sexually assaulted. “It’s important that gay men understand that it’s perfectly OK to share images and videos of yourself with others or online. If you feel empowered to, then do it. But it’s not OK to share images and videos of others online for your own amusement or sexual pleasure without their consent. It may give you a sense of power or make you feel superior, but it can have a negative impact on the person in those images or videos. We are asking you to think twice and think how it would make you feel if your nudes were shared online for everyone to see.” SUPPORT If someone has posted explicit images of you online, report the incident to the website where the images were posted and ask for them to be removed. If you decide to report the crime to the police, try to keep evidence of the incident by taking a record and screenshots of any posts or messages. If you need further advice on how to get explicit online material removed, contact the Revenge Porn Helpline on 0845 6000 459.