Image-Based Sexual Abuse

(2017) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (Forthcoming)

Posted: 22 Nov 2016

See all articles by Clare McGlynn

Clare McGlynn

Durham Law School, Durham University

Date Written: July 22, 2016


Advances in technology have transformed and expanded the ways in which sexual violence can be perpetrated. One new manifestation of such violence is the non-consensual creation and/or distribution of private sexual images: what we conceptualise as ‘image-based sexual abuse’. This article delineates the scope of this new concept and identifies the individual and collective harms it engenders. We argue that the individual harms of physical and mental illness, together with the loss of dignity, privacy and sexual autonomy, combine to constitute a form of cultural harm, impacting directly on individuals, as well as on society as a whole. While recognizing the limits of law, we conclude by considering the options for redress and the role of law, seeking to justify the deployment of the expressive and coercive powers of the criminal and civil law as a means of encouraging cultural change.

Keywords: non-consensual pornography; revenge porn; online abuse; cyberharassment; technology-facilitated violence

Suggested Citation

McGlynn, Clare M. S., Image-Based Sexual Abuse (July 22, 2016). (2017) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN:

Clare M. S. McGlynn (Contact Author)

Durham Law School, Durham University ( email )

Durham University
Palatine Centre
Durham, County Durham DH1 3LE
United Kingdom
0191 334 2800 (Phone)


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