In recent years, IBSA and other mechanisms of online harm have increased at an alarming rate and on a global scale. Even so, this issue remains an under-recognized crime that has largely been ignored by judicial systems around the world.
“As a woman-led tech company we have a responsibility to our community to prevent and address image-based sexual abuse on our platform and beyond. We are pleased to partner with Panorama Global on this initiative to raise awareness about image-based sexual abuse and ensure that those who experience it receive the justice and care they need.” - Payton Iheme, Bumble’s Vice President of Global Public Policy.
The field of image-based abuse is the latest frontier in the fight against technology-enabled forms of gender-based violence. This form of abuse occurs when someone shares, or threatens to share, intimate or explicit images without someone’s consent.
These images can quickly reach a global audience via uploads to pornographic websites or public social media platforms that do not, or cannot, reliably verify consent and/or ages of people depicted.
While initiated online, IBSA swiftly damages the very real lives of those whose consent, autonomy, and rights have been violated. Those who are impacted frequently experience high levels of psychological distress and trauma, including extreme, prolonged anxiety and suicidal ideation. Additionally, image-based abuse doesn't occur in a vacuum and has major crossover linkages and intersections with domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, stalking, and human trafficking.
As this field emerges and brings in more perspectives and voices, there is yet to be a universal – or even widely-agreed upon – term to fully define this issue. But it is important to center the experiences, expertise, and perspectives of survivors and lived experience experts when engaging with this issue.
Just as image-based abuse encompasses a complex web of issues, so too must the solutions be wide-ranging and interconnected, including stronger laws, global cooperation, government action, media education, technology innovation, prevention strategies, and more. All of us need to work together to contribute to these solutions if we hope to live in a world where everyone may be freely and safely online.
To build towards these scalable solutions, Panorama Global launched the Image-Based Sexual Abuse Initiative in the spring of 2022.
“This is the largest gathering of survivor leaders I have ever seen. I’ve been doing this work since 2013 and I have only met four other survivors.” – A lived experience expert from the US.
No single agency or entity can end image-based sexual abuse on their own. Resoundingly, the call from civil society and lived experience experts is for more collaboration, connection, and shared initiatives to advance and improve the global response.
In 2023, we’re building a global alliance to meet this call. Together, survivors, decision makers from government and the private sector, and civil society will work to address the multifaceted challenges in this space. We will co-develop a strategy that advocates for new and stronger laws, better survivor support, innovative technology solutions, and widespread prevention strategies.
“For years, I thought I was alone. Now, I am part of a growing global movement to stop the very abuse that happened to me.” - A lived experience expert from the UK
At Panorama Global we believe that all of us can – and indeed must – contribute to the shifts in culture, norms, regulation, and legislation needed to prevent image-based sexual abuse.
To change the existing system that allows for these abuses, there must be a significant culture shift that will move against the growing tide of this crime. Every sector has a role to play in the pursuit of systems change. But the solutions must be informed by those who are closest to the problem—survivors and those who support survivors’ healing, justice, and protection.
Together we can build a better internet where everyone can safely exist online free of the threat of image based sexual abuse. Join us.
In the United States: Contact the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative for support regarding image removal.
In the United Kingdom: Contact the Revenge Porn Helpline
Learn about survivor stories here: https://myimagemychoice.org/
The Image-Based Sexual Abuse initiative is powered by Panorama Global—a social impact nonprofit that empowers changemakers through radical collaboration—with seed funding from Bumble, the Greenbaum Foundation, the Jensen Project, the Pershing Square Foundation, and the Stardust Foundation.