The impact of proposed intimate image abuse offences on domestic violence and abuse

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Charlotte Bishop


intimate image abuse, gender-based violence, domestic violence, domestic abuse, coercive control, law reform


This article explores how proposed reforms to the law on intimate image abuse could address situations where intimate images are shared, or threats to share are made, in a relationship where there is domestic violence and abuse (DVA). In exploring the purposes and motivations behind the use of non-consensual intimate images in this context, the harmful impact is demonstrated to be the denial of autonomy and personhood that ‘entraps’ the victim in the relationship. It is essential that this harm, and the underlying motivations of those who use intimate image abuse for this purpose, is made visible under any relevant legislation to ensure that the criminal law effectively condemns and remedies conduct of this kind. It is for this reason that the article concludes that the Law Commission, in its 2021 consultation, was right to consider introducing an offence of ‘intentionally taking or sharing an intimate image without consent with the intent to control or coerce the person depicted’.1 It is further suggested that this fault element may better reflect the culpability of those who engage in threats to share intimate images and should be introduced not just where images are taken and shared, but also where threats to share such images are made.

Abstract 106 | NILQ 74.3.6 Bishop Downloads 347