Refuge ambassador Olivia Colman makes direct plea to Priti Patel to make threats to share intimate images a crime

 
As the Domestic Abuse Bill enters its final stages before becoming law, Refuge, Olivia Colman (Refuge ambassador), survivor Natasha Saunders, influencer Zara McDermott and Baroness Nicky Morgan are calling on the Government – and in particular Home Secretary, Priti Patel and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland – to make threats to share intimate images crime.

Refuge has today launched a powerful video with a direct plea to the Home Secretary to change the law. Refuge’s #TheNakedThreat campaign has received huge public support with over 38, 000 letters being sent to government ministers over the last few months. As the Bill reaches the 11th hour Refuge hopes this video will be shared far and wide by those who want the see the law strengthened to protect women. We are asking all supporters of this change in the law to tag @PritiPatel to show them that they want them to take action.

Baroness Morgan, former Minister for Women and Equalities and former Secretary of State for DCMS said: “I know from my time as Minister for Women just how widespread and devastating domestic abuse is, and from my time as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport how new and emerging forms of technology are being used to facilitate abuse. That’s why I’m supporting Refuge’s campaign to make threatening to share intimate images a crime via the Domestic Abuse Bill and have tabled an amendment to the Bill that would achieve this.

“I know the government recognises the importance of this issue – but we need them to act now. The law must urgently catch up with the ways in which perpetrators are using technology to control and intimidate their partners and ex-partners, The Bill gives us the opportunity to make threatening to share intimate images a crime. Women cannot wait and I see it as my duty to stand up and say so.”

Ellie Butt, head of policy and parliamentary affairs at Refuge, said: “The Domestic Abuse Bill has the potential to be a landmark piece of legislation – but only if we ensure the legislation responds to the realities women face. So much of our lives are lived online, which is increasingly causing harm and enabling abuse – the Revenge Porn Helpline has seen calls about threats to share intimate images more than triple between 2017 and 2020 and rise 73% between 2019 and 2020. Making threats to share intimate images a crime will make a real difference to the thousands of women Refuge supports every day who are experiencing abuse via technology. They themselves know best what is needed – a law change that will help provide better protection. The time to change the law is now.”

Zara McDermott said: “I’ve been on the receiving end of ‘revenge porn’ threats and know exactly how damaging it can be. I’ve heard from countless other women that they too have had similar experiences. This change in the law really could make a difference to the lives of so many women. I hope that the Government will hear our message loud and clear and push for the changes we are asking for – a swift and simple amendment to the law really could make a difference. The time to act is now.”

Notes to editors:

  • A recent survey by Refuge showed that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales – 4.4 million people – have received these threats to share. Young women are disproportionately impacted, with 1 in 7 with 1 experiencing these threats.
  • Lord Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions: ‘It is critical that women are protected, and this simple legal change can do that – but we should act now’
  • Supporters can join Refuge’s campaign to end the Naked Threat here.
  • Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. With a sharp rise in women seeking support during lockdown and as the country has moved into a third lockdown, the need to address the response to domestic abuse has never been greater.

Note for media: Please signpost to Refuge’s Freephone 24hr National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted, or to access live chat (available 3pm-10pm Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge has an Online Tech Safety Tool at www.refuge.org.uk and www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk.