3 reasons why the Revenge Porn Helpline are celebrating

How many milestones do you need to pass to justify a celebratory article?

Just the one, usually.

Those superheroes on the Revenge Porn Helpline, however, have outdone themselves (as usual) and hit not one, not two, but three milestones in November 2019.

Their achievements come hot on the heels of their busiest summer (including their busiest month ever) to date and paint a complicated picture.

On the one hand, it’s fantastic to be helping more victims of intimate image abuse. On the other, it shines an ever-brighter light on the scale of the problem. It’s simultaneously encouraging and worrying, but the helpline team is only more resolved to fight for victims of intimate image abuse.

What has the Revenge Porn Helpline achieved?

You’re probably eager to know what these milestones are. I won’t withhold them any longer!

In the space of 4.5 years, all thanks to their tenacity and hard work, the Revenge Porn Helpline has:

  • Helped 5,000 clients
  • Engaged in 20,000 contacts
  • Removed 40,000 images

Those are three astonishing achievements for any team – but especially so for a helpline with staff numbers so much lower than similar services in other countries.

Good things can often come together at the same time. Whether it’s down to luck or hard work (let’s be honest, it’s the latter), there is a certain magic to the Revenge Porn Helpline achieving so much at once.

5,000 clients

One call to the helpline is too many. To have had 5,000 people contact the helpline is a travesty and an indication of how prevalent this crime is.

Conversely, it is also a source of pride for the team. It’s a deep shame that people are victimised in this way, but for as long as people continue to perpetrate this crime, the Revenge Porn Helpline will be here to support victims. Restoring normality and imparting some sense of justice is the least we can do.

Victims of intimate image abuse experience a significant trauma – their trust, confidence, and sense of safety are all shattered. To those outside of the situation, the world spins on as normal. To the person going through it, the world has stopped in its tracks and close to falling off them entirely.

Offering short-term support, signposting, advice, and assistance with the removal of content means Revenge Porn Helpline practitioners are able to restore a degree of normality to people’s lives.

20,000 conversations

The helpline doesn’t provide long-term support to clients, but the nature of intimate image abuse cases mean that a single call will very rarely offer all the solutions someone needs. This is why the number of contacts the helpline receives is quadruple the number of clients we have assisted.

This number does also include cases that don’t meet the helpline’s criteria for support. For example, if you are under 18, you need to contact organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation and Child Exploitation and Protection Centre, as the crime committed against you is even more severe than intimate image abuse.

The helpline practitioners’ ability to juggle multiple clients, each with different cases at different stages, while maintaining professionalism, boundaries, and compassion is jaw-dropping.

40,000 images removed

One of the most common lasting effects reported by victims of intimate image abuse is a feeling of powerlessness. It’s entirely understandable when the conversations around intimate image abuse so often focus on victim-blaming and charges for perpetrators are so often underwhelming.

Whilst it is an encouraging milestone to reach, it is also significant to note how this reflects the scale at which images can be non-consensually shared. With the helpline removing an average of 8 images per client, the speed and spread of non-consensual image sharing is obvious.

That being said, successful content removals – as well as disrupting the spread of illegal material – allow clients to reclaim their images and bodies. The power in removing images is psychologically immense, offering a degree of closure that would otherwise be unattainable.

What next for the Revenge Porn Helpline?

Business as usual.

Feel free to pop a bottle of your favourite beverage and raise a glass to the Revenge Porn Helpline team – the team are getting busier and busier, with no time to stop and celebrate.

The rate at which calls are coming in to the helpline suggests the numbers will only keep on rising. The team are going nowhere, but remain in constant hope of securing further funding, changes to policy, and improvements in reporting and identification technologies. If you are in a position to assist with any of these areas, please get in touch!

If you can’t help with funding, policy, or tech, don’t worry! If you want to help the helpers, we would ask that you share the work they do with everyone you know.

A social media post, an email, a phone call – however you do it, we’d love for you to raise the helpline’s profile through word of mouth. Further support – moral, professional, financial, whatever! – will help the team provide a better, broader service to more of the people who deserve their help.

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