The Ex-Files: Over a Third of Brits Admit to Keeping Intimate Photos of an Ex-Partner

  • 1 in 10 Brits don’t ever intend to delete intimate photos of an ex-partner
  • Almost two fifths of millennials keep intimate photos for over a month post-breakup
  • Londoners are one of the most likely to keep intimate photos after a split
  • Those who earn £45-£55k are most likely to keep intimate photos after a split

Most of us are familiar with the term ‘revenge porn’, or ‘image-based sexual abuse’ - a punishable crime where intimate photos are shared online without consent. But currently there are no laws when it comes to the storing of images that were once sent consensually. In these situations, it becomes paramount to turn to our morals. So, where do we stand as a nation on the matter? 

Specialist lawyers Bolt Burdon Kemp surveyed the UK, with expert commentary from Emily McFadden, Associate Solicitor in the Abuse team, on what to do if someone has your images, and you want to know your rights.

The average length of time for keeping an intimate photo is 8 months’ post-breakup

The survey asked Brits if they had ever received an intimate photo of a partner, and out of those that had, almost 4 in 10 (39%) confessed to keeping an intimate photo post-breakup.

  • Almost 4 in 10 Brits have kept an intimate photo of a partner after a split
  • Almost 4 in 10 (39%) have kept it for over a month
  • 1 in 10 revealed they don’t intend to delete the photo at all

The results also revealed that 1.4 million Brits ‘don’t know’ whether they have kept an intimate photo or not, insinuating an educational need for either what constitutes this, or why we should care.

Men are more likely to hold on to intimate photos of an ex-partner than women

Almost half of men (46%) that have received an intimate photo have kept it post-breakup

  • Over 1 in 10 men (13%) have kept it for up to 1 month
  • One third (33%) of men have kept it over a month
  • Over 1 in 10 (11%) do not intend to delete these images

On the other hand, only one third (32%) of women who have received an intimate photo have kept it post-breakup.

  • 7% have kept it for up to 1 month
  • One quarter (25%) of women have kept it over a month
  • Almost 1 in 10 (9%) do not intend to delete these images

Millennials are the most likely age group to keep intimate photos of an ex-partner

Looking at those that are most likely to keep intimate photos by age, it seems that those aged between 25-34 have a harmful habit of holding onto these photos.

  • Almost half of millennials (47%) confess to holding onto intimate photos of an ex.
  • A third (33%) of millennials keep intimate photos for over one-month post-breakup.

However, those aged between 45-55+ are the most likely to say they don’t intend on deleting these intimate photos at all, with over 1 in 10 saying this about their ex-partner’s pictures.

Over half of Londoners have kept intimate photos of an ex-partner after a split

Our study also revealed those regions where people were most likely to keep an intimate photo post-breakup.

  • West Midlands (57%) and London (55%) came out on top, with North West England (46%) following behind.
  • Almost 4 in 10 Londoners (38%) have kept these photos for over one month, with over 1 in 10 (11%) confessing to keeping them for over 6 months.
  • Those least likely to keep any intimate photos post-breakup were Wales (10%), Scotland (23%) and the South East of England (27%).
  • Interestingly, 9 in 10 Welsh people have never kept an intimate photo, and the 1 in 10 that did have only done so for up to one month.
  • Worryingly, almost 2 in 10 people in the North East of England (18%) say they have no intentions of deleting intimate photos of their ex.

Higher earners are more likely to keep intimate photos of an ex-partner

Of those that have received intimate photos, there is generally an upwards trajectory of those who earn more money being more likely to keep the photo. The highest group was those that earn over £45k.

Annual salary         % of those who have kept intimate photos of an ex-partner

‘I do not work’          21%

£15,000 or less       36%

£15,001-25,000       34%

£25,001-35,000       32%

£35,000-£45,000     44%

£45,001-£55,000     55%

£55,001+                 54%

Emily McFadden, abuse lawyer at Bolt Burdon Kemp commented on the findings:

"People may keep intimate images of former partners for a number of reasons. This could be intentional, or just simply that they’ve forgotten that the photo(s) or video(s) even exist on their phone. Some messaging platforms save photos automatically, and people may not realise that a picture they’ve received on WhatsApp, for example, has saved a copy to their camera roll. It’s not necessarily malicious to keep photos that you have been sent by someone consensually. What is a criminal offence however, is publishing or circulating these without a person’s consent and with the intent to cause distress?”

"In our world of online lives, and online dating, sending photos and videos is a way to stay in touch with the people closest to us. Sometimes these can include intimate images. When you send someone an intimate image, you are consenting to them seeing it. You are not consenting to them showing it to others, sending it to others, or publishing it. Unless you consent to this image being shared, it is a criminal offence for the recipient to do so if they intend to cause you distress or embarrassment. There is no time limit for the need to gain consent to share, publish or circulate someone else’s intimate images."

"It would be best practice for people, once they break up, to ensure that any and all intimate images of exes are deleted from their devices and accounts."

"So, what can you do if someone has your intimate pictures and you don't want them to? Practically, the first thing to do is to ask them to delete them. If they refuse, or they threaten to share – or indeed do share - the pictures, we would recommend that you check out this advice from the Revenge Porn Helpline, and consider contacting a solicitor to take further advice.”

Research provided by:

https://www.boltburdonkemp.co.uk/abuse-claims/

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