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Mischa Barton speaks out about revenge porn reports

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Mischa Barton has confirmed that she has been the victim of “revenge porn”, saying that her “absolute worst fear” has been realized.

Revenge porn is legally defined as the sharing of private – often revealing or sexually explicit – images or videos of a person without their consent, with the intention of causing them distress or humiliation. In the UK, reported cases of the offence have risen markedly in recent years.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Barton said that one of her former partners had secretly filmed her in an attempt to profit from selling the videos.

“I’ve been put through an incredibly hard and trying time,” said Barton, according to The Wrap. “This is a painful situation, and my absolute worst fear was realized when I learned that someone I thought I loved and trusted was filming my most intimate and private moments, without my consent with hidden cameras.”

She continued: “And then I learned something even worse – that somebody is trying to sell these videos and make them public.”

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Mischa Barton at New York Fashion Week in September 2016.

The 31-year-old actor, best known for her role as Marissa in The O.C., held the press conference accompanied by her attorney Lisa Bloom. A high-profile civil rights lawyer, Bloom has a long history of working with women fighting back against misogynistic forces.

She previously represented the woman who claimed Donald Trump sexually assaulted her when she was 13, and the model Janice Dickinson in a lawsuit against Bill Cosby, who she said had drugged and raped her. Bloom also once sued the Boy Scouts of America on behalf of a girl who wanted to become a Scout.

Barton went on to describe the “pain and humiliation that I have had to go through”, saying that it had been a “horrific experience” – but that she was “glad that I am finally standing up for myself”.


Read more: Revenge porn victims reveal the impact of having their naked photos leaked


Bloom has said that she will “come after” anyone who attempts to “shop” private images of Barton, after rumours surfaced that someone was trying to sell a video of the actor to various websites.

“There’s a name for this disgusting conduct: revenge pornography,” said Bloom on Tuesday. “Revenge pornography is a form of sexual assault, and it is also a crime and a civil wrong in California. And we will not stand for it.”

The attorney continued: “I have a message for anyone who attempts to traffic in these photos or videos of Ms. Barton: we will find you, and we will come after you. We will fully prosecute you under every available criminal and civil law.

“You proceed at your peril.”

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Mischa Barton's attorney, Lisa Bloom (left) previously represented the model Janice Dickinson in a lawsuit against Bill Cosby.

Revenge pornography is a triable offence in the UK, and punishable with a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment. Since new revenge porn laws were introduced in 2015, more than 200 people have been prosecuted for the offence.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, a person will only be found guilty of revenge pornography if one of their reasons for sharing the images was to cause distress to the person depicted in the photo or video.

A 2016 investigation by the BBC found that more than 60% of reported offences resulted in no action being taken against the alleged perpetrator. Among the main reasons cited by police included a lack of evidence or the victim withdrawing their support for any action.


Read more: “The phoney outrage at Emma Watson’s breasts is laughably transparent”


Whenever women – famous or not – are involved in cases such as Barton’s, the phenomenon of victim-blaming rears its ugly head. We hear, again and again, phrases such as “she shouldn’t have let him film it in the first place”; “she should have known the images would get out eventually”. These arguments are never valid, or true, or fair.

Unlike Barton, not all victims of revenge pornography have the financial resources to hire a powerful attorney. Not all may feel capable of enduring a complex, emotionally-challenging court case. But we should all take heart from the fact that Barton is refusing to accept the offence committed against her. She is fighting back – and the more that perpetrators of revenge porn face legal repercussions, the more others might think twice in the future.

If you are in the UK and you think you have been a victim of revenge pornography, you can find advice and support at the Revenge Porn Helpline (0345 6000 459).

Images: Rex Features

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