Being Shown Unwanted Sexual Images

What is this type of image-based abuse?

You might have received a sexual picture or video that you didn’t want. Or someone showed you or made you watch something that you didn’t want to see, like pornography. You shouldn’t ever have to look at something sexually explicit that you don’t want to. This is a form of image-based abuse. It can happen in a number of ways.

One common thing is to get sent a picture that you didn’t agree to receive. It might be a picture of someone’s penis (often called a ‘dick pic’) or other genitals, or a person in their underwear, or in a sexual pose. The person might be asking for an image in return.

Or you might be in a relationship with them. Sometimes the person might think this is an OK way to flirt. Or they might do it to embarrass you, frighten you or express their power.

Or it could be part of stalking.

Sometimes you might be shown pornography that you haven’t chosen to see. If it’s an adult showing something to a young person under 16, this is child abuse.

What does the law say?

It’s against the law to make someone look at a sexual image without their consent, when it’s done to humiliate, distress or alarm them, or for sexual gratification (sexual gratification is when someone feels sexually aroused or ‘turned on’). From the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 (Section 6: Coercing a person into looking at a sexual image).

There are particular laws to protect children from this kind of abuse. If the person showing the image is over the age of 16, and they are showing it to someone aged 12 or under then this offence is called ‘Causing a young child to look at a sexual image’. Or if they show it to someone aged 13-15 this offence is called ‘Causing an older child to look at a sexual image’. From the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 (Section 23: Causing a young child to look at a sexual image) and (Section 33: Causing an older child to look at a sexual image).

Where can you get help and support?

Find out where to get support.

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