There's a vast amount of research on the harmful effects of pornography, and it's important that this information is accessible to the public. Weekly, we highlight a research study that sheds light on the expanding field of academic resources that showcase porn's harms. These studies cover a wide range of topics, from the sociological implications of pornography to the neurological effects of porn-consumption.


The full study can be accessed here.

Authors: Bates, S.
Published June 2016

Abstract

This study examines the emotional and mental health effects revenge porn has on female survivors. To date, no other academic studies have exclusively focused on mental health effects in revenge porn cases. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted between February 2014 and January 2015 with 18 female revenge porn survivors, and inductive analysis revealed participants’ experiences of trust issues, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and several other mental health effects. These findings reveal the seriousness of revenge porn, the devastating impacts it has on survivors’ mental health, and similarities between revenge porn and sexual assault.

Methods

In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 female revenge porn survivors. Inclusion criteria for this study had two components: (a) Participants had to be 19 years of age or older, and (b) participants had to self-identify as victims or survivors of revenge porn.

Results

Overall, participants experienced many disruptive mental health issues after victimization that affected their daily lives. Participants generally engaged in negative coping mechanisms, such as denial and self-medicating, closer to when they were victimized, and turned to positive coping mechanisms, such as seeking counseling, as time passed. Nearly all participants discussed a general loss of trust in others after being victimized by revenge porn. Many went from being very trusting to rarely trusting anyone after they were betrayed by someone they loved and cared about. Along with the loss of trust, many participants experienced more severe and disruptive mental health effects, often being given official medical diagnoses of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Given that revenge porn shares many similarities with sexual assault and sexual harassment, it should come as no surprise that the revenge porn survivors in this study experienced many of the same mental health effects that sexual assault survivors experience.

The full study can be accessed here.

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