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How Leaked Personal Images Can Affect a Victim’s Mental Health

In this article, we explore the devasting impacts leaking personal images has on a victim’s mental health.

Leaked Personal Images Can Affect a Victim's Mental Health
Photo by Kristina Tripkovic from Unsplash

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a number of instances where ‘upskirting’ images have been covertly taken and posted on Facebook, causing distress and humiliation to the victims. Unfortunately, this kind of criminality is not the only way in which personal images can cause distress when they fall into the wrong hands.

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In this article, we’re going to be examining the impact on a person’s mental health when indecent images are leaked. Keep reading to find out more…

What are Personal Images?

While we’ve mentioned criminality such as upskirting, the term ‘personal images’ is largely used to describe photographs or videos of a sexual nature. Often, these images will be captured by a couple who are both consenting adults and tend to depict either nudity or sexual conduct.

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Another example whereby these images can be uses in a criminal manner is ‘revenge porn’. This is where sexually explicit content of an individual is shared without consent to cause distress and embarrassment. Those found guilty of the offence can find be sentenced to up to 2 years in prison and a fine.

How are Indecent Images Leaked?

Images (photographs or video) are leaked when a person gains access to the images and then shares them with others. This can include sending them to a friend, posting them on social media and, even sending them to national and international media outlets when the image is of a celebrity or person of note. An image is said to have been leaked when the person who is sharing it does so without the knowledge or permission of the person in the images.

The reasons for leaking indecent images can be varied but can include accidental sharing, ’revenge porn’ and an attempt to make money from the images.

The Personal Impact on a Victim’s Mental Health

The Personal Impact on a Victim’s Mental Health
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris from Unsplash
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It is, of course, understandable that a victim will be angry and upset on discovering that personal images have been leaked. However, the impact of this activity can have some serious and long-lasting effects on the victim’s mental health.

Stress

One of the most immediate consequences of a leaked person images is one of the UK’s most prolific killers – stress. On discovering that personal or indecent images have been leaked, the victim will usually have to embark on the often frustrating process of having the images removed from where they have been published.

This will usually involve getting in touch with a social media platform’s administrators and reporting the leak. After this, the individual will then have to wait for them to make a decision as to whether the images will be removed.

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Stress can be a major issue when the victim is a celebrity or public figure who may stand to lose work as well as suffering damage to their reputation when personal images are made public. This was the case with actress, Amanda Seyfried, when intimate photographs of her and her former boyfriend were leaked to the press by a third party. Amanda’s lawyers subsequently threatened legal action against any media outlet which featured or shared the images.

Isolation

When images are leaked online or in the media, the victim will often be consumed with thoughts of who may be looking at them at any given time. Even if the images have been removed from the initial platform, he or she will tend to worry that they may also exist elsewhere.

In a lot of cases, the victim will become reluctant to engage with others or to socialise due to the fear that people are laughing and gossiping about them. This can lead to a very real sense of isolation. Particularly when the victim may feel too humiliated to confide in those who are close to them.

Body Image

Body Image
Photo by Kat Smith from Pexels

While most of us have our hang ups when it comes to our appearance, these are normally limited to a vow to go on a diet or to change our hairstyle. However, when a victim becomes aware that other people are viewing naked or semi-naked photographs of them, this can result in disgust at their own bodies and, in some instances, can lead to body dysmorphia which, in turn, can lead to eating disorders.

Sadly, a lot of victims become further targets of online abuse including body shaming and slut shaming. This in turn, can lead to reduced levels of self-esteem and bad mental health.

Heightened Anxiety

Being a victim of any crime – let alone one as personal as the leaking of indecent images can cause depression and anxiety. In cases such as ‘upskirting’ where images have been captured covertly, a victim may feel anxious even just stepping out of the house, for fear that somebody else may commit the same kind of crime against them without their knowledge.

In extreme circumstances, this can cause the victim to develop a form of agoraphobia where just the idea of going outside is one which is filled with fear.

Indecent Imagery and Mental Health

While Facebook has pledged to remove images such as ‘upskirting’ from its platform and to become more proactive in identifying such content, it admits that there is still work to be done. As well as being a gross invasion of privacy, the impact on a victim’s wellbeing, particularly their mental health, is one which needs to be addressed on a moral and legal basis.

While people viewing such indecent images may well take a peek and then keep scrolling, the sharing of these images can have far reaching consequences for the victim – ones which can sometimes last years or even a lifetime. As well as contacting the platform or media outlet to ask for the images to be removed, victims are urged to hire the services of a solicitor to ensure that those who take and distribute personal photographs and videos will not get away with it.

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