Revenge porn ‘completely destroys lives’ – Love Island star calls for law change

Love Island contestant Zara McDermott has joined campaign group Refuge outside the Houses of Parliament to push for changes in the law regarding revenge porn.

The sharing of intimate images of another person without their consent is a crime, but the threat to share such pictures is not.

Earlier this year Refuge launched “The Naked Threat” campaign to make changes to the Domestic Abuse Bill so that anyone sharing such images can be prosecuted.

The charity wants to see the Bill strengthened to prevent anyone trying to bully or blackmail their victim with threats made online or otherwise.

Ms McDermott said the act of sharing revenge porn “completely destroys lives” and that the threat to do so was “potentially equally as damaging”.

“I think this is one of the most important milestones in the sector of revenge porn,” she told the PA news agency on Thursday.

“The threat to share (an image) is potentially equally as damaging and it’s a method of control that is used in and out of relationships and the Government need to recognise this threat.”

Revenge porn protest
Baroness Nicky Morgan joined Ms McDermott in Parliament Square (Victoria Jones/PA)

Ms McDermott became victim of revenge porn at the age of 21 while she was a contestant on the popular ITV2 series Love Island.

“I came out (of the show) to find that an ex of mine had shared a lot of imagery of me while I was in the show, so was completely unaware.

“I was bombarded with all these images of myself and it was hard, one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through in my life.

“This is so important because it happens to so many women – and men – but a lot of the time it is women.

“It completely destroys lives.”

Ms McDermott, who has 1.4 million followers on Instagram, said she felt it was necessary to use her personal platform to raise awareness of the issue.

Revenge porn protest
Ms McDermott was a victim of revenge porn while appearing in Love Island (Victoria Jones/PA)

“It is actually quite a taboo subject, people don’t talk about it a lot,” she said.

“I want to normalise that, and using my platform to be able to do that is so important.”

She was joined outside Parliament by domestic abuse survivor Natasha Saunders, and Baroness Nicky Morgan, who will support the Bill’s amendment in the House of Lords in the coming days.

Ms Saunders said that it was “vital” that laws were changed to reflect the modern “digital age”.

“People fail to realise just how dangerous the threat of sharing intimate images is,” she said.

“If you threaten to kill, it’s illegal, extortion, bribery, all of those things are illegal, and yet the threat to share intimate images is very violating.

“The internet is a very big place, your images could end up anywhere. The humiliation… is just awful.”

“We’re living in a digital age, we need laws fit for a digital age. It’s just vital we get this amendment.”

Baroness Morgan added that she thought there would be support for the amendments when the changes were debated in the House of Lords.

“We are all living our lives online more and that means there are more benefits but there are downsides too,” she said.

“This is one of them and I think we should crack down on it.”

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