Pamela Bradshaw | Associate

Revenge Porn and Psychiatric Injury

Spending hours writing and re-writing handwritten letters to our loves is a communication of the past. Nowadays, selfies have replaced sonnets as the declarations of love.

While it isn’t revolutionary to say social media has changed how society and individuals communicate, the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act is revolutionising the underbelly of our digital age. The intentional hacking and leaking of intimate photographs have commonly been deemed a ‘sex crime’ and now criminal law in Scotland has defined it as an offence to “disclose, or threaten to disclose, an intimate photograph or film” without consent of the individuals featuring in it.

The sharing of an intimate photograph or the threat of doing so can cause devastating harm and long term anxiety to victims, in some cases resulting in feelings of self-harm and suicide. Similar to any sort of physical pain, a person’s mental health, psychological and emotional wellbeing may be injured through the actions of another party. A person may suffer from anxiety, stress, panic attacks, depression, or sleep problems. There are limited Scottish authorities for cases of this nature but English case law for pain, suffering and loss of amenity could be persuasive in seeking financial compensation for such injuries and redress.

For psychiatric and psychological injury, a number of factors need to considered, including the person’s ability to cope with life and work, the effect on the person’s relationships, and the extent to which treatment for these injuries would be successful. Considering such points allows a court to decide how much a person’s suffering is financially worth. Therefore, civil compensation for such psychological injuries could be a way to redress the suffering caused by this breach of trust.

As technology evolves, so does the law of how we use it. We will be following development of civil claims relating to this area and will continue to provide updates on new developments of psychiatric and psychological injury. In the meantime, if someone has shared your intimate pictures or videos without permission, please follow the advice provided by the Scottish Government.

Pamela Bradshaw

Pamela Bradshaw

Personal Injury Team

“Meeting people at a difficult time in their lives, getting to know them and helping them to get something positive out of the circumstances they find themselves in is the most rewarding part of my job.”

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