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Refuge’s #TheNakedThreat campaign secures law change to make threatening to share intimate images a crime

Following a campaign from AMV BBDO, this change in the law is an example of the power of collective action to bring about vital, life altering legislature.

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE

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A threat doesn’t have to be carried out to make it a violent act in its own right. Research from Refuge carried out in 2020 found that one in 14 adults have experienced threats to share intimate images or videos; a statistic which equates to 4.4 million people. Threats to share these kinds of images are most prevalent amongst those aged 18 to 34, with one in seven young women experiencing threats.

Refuge has long asserted that threats to share intimate images should be treated as a domestic abuse issue and be punishable by law accordingly. According to Refuge 72% of women who have received threats to share intimate images were from a current or ex-partner and 83% of women who experienced the threat from a current or former partner also experienced other forms of abuse.

Refuge has announced this week that the government has now committed to amending the Domestic Abuse Bill to make these kinds of threats a criminal offence. This act will protect millions of women from experiencing similar threats in the future.

Lisa King, Refuge Director of Communications and External Relations, explained: “This is a significant moment for women experiencing domestic abuse who have been threatened with the sharing of their private intimate images and we are thrilled that the government has recognised the need for urgent change. The Domestic Abuse Bill provides the perfect legislative vehicle for this change, and the government has acted quickly and decisively. This is a victory for women and girls and testimony to the power of working together for change”.

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#TheNakedThreat campaign launched as a partnership between Refuge and AMV BBDO to lobby the government to make it illegal to threaten to share explicit images. The campaign ran nationally online and in print, as well as in a dedicated Instagram hack in partnership with Cosmopolitan. It resulted in 42,000 people writing to their MP, demanding a law change.

At the end of 2020, the team launched a follow up tactical social film starring Olivia Colman, Zara McDermott, who has recently been filming a documentary for BBC Three about revenge porn, Nicky Morgan MP and Natasha Saunders, a domestic abuse survivor whose story is told in the film. It directly addressed Home Secretary Priti Patel and viewers were encouraged to share the ad, tagging Patel when they did.

The law change is an example of the power of collective action to bring about vital, life altering change. The power of engaging a community to lobby the government. As Jack Smedley and George Hackforth-Jones, the creatives at AMV BBDO behind #TheNakedThreat, explained, this is a campaign which successfully “protects women neglected by an outdated law.”

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