Compensation for Image-Based Abuse

What is image-based abuse?

Often referred to as ‘revenge porn’, image-based abuse (IBA) is where intimate photographic or video recorded content is shared without the consent, or often the knowledge, of the person filmed.

An intimate image or video shows:

  • Genitals, buttocks, or breasts (whether covered by underwear or bare)
  • Private activity (including sexual activity, showering, using the bathroom, or undressing)

Terms such as ‘revenge porn’ and ‘sextortion’ have been sensationalised by the media as a form of clickbait but are problematic for placing negative connotations on those who have suffered abuse. The term ‘revenge’ creates a sense of blame, suggesting the abused has done something wrong, causing the abuser to retaliate. For some that have suffered IBA, the reference to ‘porn’ is unsettling as it may suggest they were knowingly filmed but that the content was unknowingly shared.

Women’s rights campaigners have been calling for the government to strengthen current UK legislation, which has failed to keep up with the new ways in which violence and abuse, particularly of a sexual nature, can now be facilitated by technology. The Government has now accepted the Law Commission’s recommendations to reform the law in respect of intimate image offences, made in the 2022 Intimate Image Abuse report.

The proposed framework comprises the following five new offences:

1. A base offence of taking or sharing an intimate image without consent.

2. More serious offences:

a) An offence of taking or sharing an intimate image without consent, with the intention of causing the victim humiliation, alarm, or distress.

b) An offence of taking or sharing an intimate image without consent, with the intention that the image will be looked at for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification.

c) An offence of threatening to share an intimate image.

3. An offence of installing equipment to commit such offences.

Civil Claims Against Perpetrators of Image-Based Abuse:

In the first case of its kind, FGX v Stuart Gaunt has seen the Claimant awarded £60,000 General Damages, which relate to psychological injury, and a further £37,041.61 special damages covering the cost of financial loss.

The Defendant concealed a microscopic camera in the bathroom of their shared home, recording the Claimant undressing, cleaning the bathroom before showering, and subsequently uploaded the images revealing the Claimant’s face on a pornographic website.

With this being a new, albeit an increasingly more common issue of criminal and civil law, there are no previous image-based abuse rulings for counsel to rely on when determining a suitable monetary award for General Damages in this case. FGX v Stuart Gaunt now sets a precedent for Civil claims of IBA dealing with damages for intentional infliction of harm and misuse of private information. Where the intentional infliction of harm has caused the psychological injury of PTSD, the Claimant must be psychologically assessed and clinically diagnosed by a Psychiatrist or a Psychologist.

If a Civil claim of IBA is successful, the Defendant may be ordered to pay General and/or Special Damages to the Claimant by way of a money Judgment. It is worthwhile that the Claimant gives consideration to the means of the Defendant. This is because iof the risk that the Defendant does not have the funds to pay the Damages awarded to the Claimant, there may be little merit in pursuing a civil claim against the Defendant directly.

Under these circumstances, it may be better for victims of abuse to consider a claim under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Please note, however, it is important for a decision to be made whether to pursue a civil claim or a CICA claim, as victims of abuse will not be able to be compensated twice from the same cause of action.

Claims under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)

Under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, victims of abuse or violence are able to claim compensation from a public purse rather than from the perpetrator of the offence.

Furthermore, where the victim’s injuries fall short of a PTSD diagnosis, they may have a potential claim under the CICA if their injury falls into a qualifying band of mental anxiety.

To pursue a CICA claim, those who have suffered abuse should report the abuse to the police immediately but no later than within 48 hours. Where the abuse is image-based, the report needs to be made within a reasonable time period from when the Claimant learnt of the abuse, even if the abuse has been occurring for a long period of time prior to this.

The Claimant will also need to continue to assist the police with their inquiry, should the CPS choose to charge the perpetrator, up to and including a criminal trial.

The timescales for both Civil claims and CICA claims differ dependent on the nature of each case but for adults are normally 3 years and 2 years, respectively, from the known date of the offence.

At MSB, our Personal Injury team work with clients on a case by case basis to offer the best support for those who have suffered from this,  or any form of abuse, causing injury and/or loss.

For further information on how we can help you, or someone you know, contact Eamonn Sexton, in confidence, on 0151 522 1279, or at