On this week's episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, Alan and Danielle are discussing abuse in massages.

This topic has been brought to light as recently, former Love Island Contestant, Shaughna Phillips, has bravely disclosed claims that her masseur touched her inappropriately.

Previously in 2020 Nicola McLean also disclosed how she was sexually assaulted by a masseur in her own home but couldn’t face reporting this to the police. After the assault she described how she suffered nightmares, anxiety and return of an eating disorder

Many of us have experienced going for a professional massage before and usually the occasion is comfortable and respectful. However, sadly, many people have not shared this same positive experience and have left feeling violated and uncomfortable with the situation they have been put in.

This week we discuss the issue of consent in the podcast. When you go to a professional masseuse, you are consenting to have them perform the desired treatment on you. However, how far does that consent go?  It can sometimes be unclear as to whether the actions of the masseuse are necessary to the treatment or over the line and inappropriate. The difficulty is, that without discussing the experience, many of us do not know what is inappropriate in that scenario. Would you expect your masseur to ask you to remove your underwear? Do we feel embarrassed to question the professional? Would you discuss the experience afterwards or feel embarrassed that you are questioning this experience?

As with many situations where abuse occurs, abusers rely upon their position of trust.

Over the years there have been many cases where convictions have been brought against masseurs for sexual assault. In March this year a Belfast masseur was jailed for sexual assault to two young female clients. There have been convictions against masseurs working in high establishment hotels where you would expect to feel safe.

We would encourage anyone who feels they have experienced sexual abuse to report their experience to the police.

 

In part two, Alan and Michael discuss what lessons can be learned from the impact of Covid-19 on Online Child Sexual Exploitation?

As part of the research project when asked about the lessons of the pandemic for online child protection and safety, OCSE professionals called for:

  • Increased education and outreach to children, parents and the community about child safety strategies and the risks of OCSE,
  • An adaptive and crisis-prepared child protection system,
  • Technology industry transparency and accountability to ensure a timely and proportionate response to OCSE,
  • Preventative platform and service design to reduce the opportunities for offenders to target children and to improve reporting and safety measures,
  • Enhanced support for OCSE victims and survivors, including holistic case management,
  • Recognition of the adaptiveness of OCSE offender communities and a commitment to a similarly adaptive counter-responses, and
  • A strengths-based approach that acknowledges the strength and resiliency of children and young people.

Alan raises the question during the podcast: what do you do if your child has been the victim of on-line sexual exploitation?

If your child has been “sextorted” what advice and support is there?

The role of on-line social media platform providers are discussed as well as the need for governments, internationally, to do far more to combat on-line CSE.

The key recommendations from the report are:

  • To integrate OCSE professional stakeholders into the planning of child protection responses to crises and pandemics,
  • To diversify outreach approaches for the delivery of OCSE prevention and education initiatives,
  • To increase transparency and accountability measures for technology companies in the prevention, moderation, and reporting of OCSE, including a safety by design approach,
  • To develop accessible specialised support options for victims and survivors of OCSE, and
  • To develop robust measures of offender and child behaviour online.

A full copy of “The impact of COVID-19 on the risk of online child sexual exploitation and the implications for child protection and policing” can be found here.

In this podcast Alan Collins discusses with Prof. Michael Salter of the University of New South Wales the impact of Covid-19 on On-Line Child Sexual Exploitation.

It will come , perhaps, as no great surprise that the pandemic with the “lockdowns” as impacted on children and young people in many ways, whether it be being unable to attend school, delayed exams, or not seeing friends and family. Concerns have been raised about the risks of child sexual abuse being heightened by the impact of “lockdowns”, and these have been well-founded given the research undertaken by Prof. Slater and his colleague Dr Tim Wong. Their research paper: “The impact of COVID-19 on the risk of online child sexual exploitation and the implications for child protection and policing” is the subject of this podcast.

 

The research highlights the following:

  • There were significant changes and disruptions to OCSE professional practice as a result of COVID-19. Working from home (and many of can now relate to this), and other COVID-19 safety measures (for example travel restrictions; court closures etc) were particularly challenging for professionals engaged in investigations work, managing sensitive or illegal content, undertaking case management, and for those reliant upon multi-agency collaboration.
  • Major increases in reports and investigations into OCSE were not matched by increased victim identification and victim support efforts. Participant responses indicated that they experienced an influx of OCSE reports, resulting in increased investigations work, however OCSE victim identification and support efforts remained at pre-pandemic levels.
  • OCSE education and prevention initiatives decreased during the pandemic. Although online risks to children increased during the pandemic, agencies found it difficult to maintain their existing outreach and prevention efforts.
  • The majority of professionals identified increased OCSE offending and risk behaviour as a result of the pandemic including increases related to: child sexual abuse material, online grooming, activity in online abuse communities, online risk taking by minors, and live streaming of abuse material.
  • OCSE professionals reported a lack of robust statistical measures of OCSE offender behaviour and child risk as a key constraint when assessing the impact of COVID-19 on online child safety and offender behaviour.

A full copy of “The impact of COVID-19 on the risk of online child sexual exploitation and the implications for child protection and policing” can be found at: https://www.arts.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/documents/eSafety-OCSE-pandemic-report-salter-and-wong.pdf

'CEASE' stands for 'Centre To End All Sexual Exploitation'. It was set up in 2019 with a core belief To end sexual exploitation in all its ugly forms, we have to understand what’s driving it. That meant digging down deep to expose the two main root causes  of sexual exploitation”:

 

CEASE focus on two points of why exploitation continues:

  • OUR CULTURE; CEASE believes one of the biggest causes of sexual exploitation is the fact that we as a culture have made it completely normal to view people (and especially women) as sex objects not human beings. It’s much easier to harm someone if you see them as a ‘thing’
  • TWO: PROFIT CEASE believes humans have turned sex into a saleable commodity – and it’s big business. The international sex trade and the global porn industry are worth billions. 

One of CEASE’s  aims is to tackle the cultural and commercial forces behind exploitation. 

CEASE  aims to raise awareness of what sexual exploitation is, where it occurs and how it contravenes our Human Rights by campaigning for better law and policy change. They aim to do this by working with organisations and individuals.

The three areas which can be explored in detail on the website are, pornography, prostitution and the wider sex industry.

Pornography

One of CEASE’s focuses is on how pornography has become normalised leading to exploitation CEASE list the following stances;

  • Pornography is a ‘public health crisis’ of the digital age.
  • The porn industry is exploitative and unregulated.
  • Prostitution is fundamentally exploitative.
  • Victims and survivors of sexual exploitation should have the full support of the law to rebuild their lives.
  • Human trafficking and prostitution are intrinsically linked.
  • The commercial sex industry puts children at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • Hypersexualisation in media and wider culture is an underlying driver of child sex abuse & exploitation.

CEASE campaign to raise awareness how pornography can be racist and how it can hurt children and relationships. Concerns highlighted which can flow from pornography include physical and psychological violence, exploitation, rape, addiction and homelessness.

Prostitution

Prostitution in the UK is not illegal. However, in an attempt to mitigate the harm and risks associated with it, the UK government has criminalised more than 30 associated activities, including: soliciting sex on the street; kerb crawling; advertising using cards in telephone boxes; causing / inciting prostitution or controlling it for personal gain (i.e. pimping); brothel-keeping; and the buying of sex from trafficked individuals. The UK law around prostitution is complicated and, for this reason, there have been various calls for reform.

Wider Sex Industry

CEASE also raise awareness of sugar daddy dating, stripping, webcamming and the shallows (putting one foot into the sex industry whilst also trying to maintain a normal life)

Campaigns

  • #AVNOW

CEASE have been running the AVNOW campaign to raise awareness of age verification on porn sites to prevent the harm we have already outlined above and children’s images being used.

Facts states by CEASE state by the UK Government’s own reckoning, 1.4 million children access pornography every month from a young age of 7 or so and over 60% of this accidental – campaigning for age verification is therefore vital

CEASE list in June 2021 another law suit was filed  in the USA against Pornhub and its parent company Mindgeek that have been found to have hosted, and profited from, videos of child sexual exploitation, rape, trafficking, and otherwise non-consensually shared footage and images. This time, victims of non-consensual image sharing have filed the case because, as USA Today reports, they ““were ignored, shamed, and sometimes mocked” when they asked MindGeek to remove videos of their abuse from its porn platform.”

CEASE are also crown fundraising, threatening to bring a legal case against the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for failing to protect children’s data from misuse by porn sites. This exposes children to more hardcore and harmful content. Help us call on the Information.

CEASE highlights, these sites are now processing and using the data of children, and the authorities who have the power and competency to investigate them have not.

More information can be found here: Home - CEASE / Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation

We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins or Danielle Vincent.

In this episode of HJ Talks about Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor discuss the harm of encryption in relation to tackling child sexual abuse.

In 2020, the internet watch foundation received 300,000 reports, 153,000 of those were verified to be new child sexual abuse content. The police, and other professional bodies, have expressed concern that more child predators can be found on messaging apps, rather than on the dark web.

These authorities are concerned regarding wider use of end-to-end encryption on messages as this makes it much harder to apprehend suspects and detect child predators.

End-to-end encrypted messages can only be read by the sender and recipient. Every message has a unique “lock and key”. This means that no one can read the message’s contents while it is in transit. Third parties such as Facebook and Microsoft cannot decrypt the content of messages, and therefore cannot hand information in relation to criminal activity to the authorities.

Facebook has stated its intention to introduce this to its messenger and Instagram direct platforms. It has stated that end-to-end encryption has its positives in relation to privacy and keeping individuals safe from hackers and criminals.

The UK, US and Australia have repeatedly objected to the idea for several years because of the negative impact it would cause to combatting child abuse. The wider use would drastically reduce the amount of child sexual abuse material that is reported to authorities.

We encourage anyone who has comments or concerns relating to this subject, or about abuse in general, to get in touch with Alan Collins at alan.collins@hughjames.com or Feleena Grosvenor at Feleena.grosvenor@hughjames.com.

Sources:

Should encryption be curbed to combat child abuse? - BBC News

MI5 chief Ken McCallum accuses Facebook of giving ‘free pass’ to terrorists | News | The Times

In this episode of HJ Talks about Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor discuss the legal agreement between the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

In June 2020, the Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) concluded an inspection into the East of England Ambulance Service Trust. The CQC reported that thirteen cases of sexual misconduct by staff had been reported to the police. The information was received from seven whistleblowers in relation to "safeguarding patients and staff from sexual abuse, inappropriate behaviours and harassment".

In August 2020, the CQC approached the Equality and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”).

The EHRC entered into a legal agreement with the Ambulance Service due to the “egregious breaches of the Equality Act”. This is the first legal agreement between the EHRC and an NHS Trust.

The agreement lays down specific measures, including:

  • Carrying out a staff survey to assess levels of sexual harassment within the trust
  • Implementing training which responds to the findings of the survey
  • Reviewing its Dignity at Work policy to include a clear harassment strategy statement and procedure
  • Having board and senior managers take part in a workshop on sexual and predatory behaviour
  • Completing risk assessments to identify areas in the trust where sexual harassment is most likely to occur and putting appropriate measures in place

We encourage anyone who has comments or concerns relating to this subject, or about abuse in general, to get in touch with Alan Collins at alan.collins@hughjames.com or Feleena Grosvenor at Feleena.grosvenor@hughjames.com.

 

Sources:

East of England Ambulance Service Trust in legal agreement to tackle sexual harassment - BBC News

NHS East of England Ambulance Service paramedic jailed for sexual assault of patients - BBC News

 

In this episode of HJ Talks about Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor discuss the new Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (“CSSA”).

In November 2020, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (“IICSA”) published the final report in relation to child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The final report stated, among other conclusions and criticisms, that the Catholic Church appeared at times to care more about the impact of abuse on the Church's reputation than on the victims.

The Catholic Church created the CSSA and published an Action Plan in response to the IICSA report.

The CSSA creates a professional standard to which all Catholic Dioceses and Religious Life Groups in England and Wales will be accountable. This means that the body will be able to sanction clergy who do not meet those standards.

Mr Nazir Afzal has been appointed as chair of the CSSA. His appointment is said to represent “a seismic shift in culture” that is desperately needed.

He was the former Chief Crown Prosecutor in the Rochdale grooming gang cases as the Chair of their new safeguarding agency.

The CSSA also appoints Stephen Ashley as the Deputy Chair. He is a former Assistant Chief Constable who authored a Home Office report on the conduct of the police during the investigations into sex offences committed by former television personality Jimmy Savile.

We encourage anyone who has comments or concerns relating to this subject, or about abuse in general, to get in touch with Alan Collins or Feleena Grosvenor.

 

Sources:

In this episode of HJ Talks about Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor discuss the Domestic Abuse Bill that was passed into law on 29 April 2021.

The Act, for the first time, provides a legal definition of domestic abuse. It also provides a number of protections to the millions of people who experience abuse.

The Act states that domestic abuse is:

1. Behaviour of a person (“A”) towards another person (“B”) is “domestic abuse” if;

(a) A and B are each aged 16 or over and are personally connected to each other, and

(b) the behaviour is abusive.

2. Behaviour is “abusive” if it consists of any of the following;

(a) physical or sexual abuse;

(b) violent or threatening behaviour;

(c) controlling or coercive behaviour;

(d) economic abuse (see subsection (4));

(e) psychological, emotional or other abuse;

and it does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

Some monumental measures include that abusers will no longer be allowed to directly cross-examine their victims in the family and civil courts and the extension of the offence of threatening to disclose intimate images.

The Act also provides the new offence, as discussed in a previous podcast, of Non-fatal strangulation.

Other measures include:

  • Victims will have better access to special measures in the courtroom to help prevent intimidation – such as protective screens and giving evidence via video link.
  • new police powers, including Domestic Abuse Protection Notices
  • extending the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse
  • explicitly recognise children as victims if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse 
  • establish in law the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and set out the Commissioner’s functions and powers
  • placing a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation 
  • provide that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance
  • place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (“Clare’s law”) on a statutory footing 

We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse, domestic abuse or related matters, to get in touch with Alan Collins at alan.collins@hughjames.com or Feleena Grosvenor at Feleena.grosvenor@hughjames.com.

Sources:

Landmark Domestic Abuse Bill receives Royal Assent  - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Domestic Abuse Act: Factsheet - Home Office in the media (blog.gov.uk)

Domestic Abuse Bill: For these victims, a new law is long overdue - BBC News

Jess Davies features in the new BBC documentary ‘When Nudes Are Stolen’.

Jess is a former glamour model and is now a presenter. She is joined in the documentary by a number of guests, including glamour model Joey Fisher.

Jess explains how she has spent the last 10 years trying to have her images removed from catfish sites, porn sites and dating websites. Of the many problems she has faced from this, she discusses how her images have been used to extortion money from men and also depicting her working on an escort site. Jess discloses how she has had 1000’s of messages from men who think they have spoken with her or have sent her money.

It is clear the distress and impact that this has on Jess throughout the documentary. This has impacted her confidence and relationships. This is also true of Joey Fisher who she then interviews.

The concerns raised whilst watching this documentary mirror that of many individuals who have suffered revenge porn. Jess explains the difficulties she has had having these images of her removed from websites, and only to be removed from one website appear on another.  

Organisations have now been set up to remove these images from sites for individuals impacted by this, but this comes with a heavy fee, which many people just don’t have.

There can be significant costs involved not just financially but emotionally too.

Another issue raised in the documentary is what has become known as ‘E-Whoring’. This is where individuals sell mega - folders of images of women online (sometimes with hundreds of images in one folder of one person). Users can log on and request a specific individual and within minutes can be sent a bundle of such individuals images. Websites have been set up to exchange these bundle folders for cash payments. The term alone connotes that the person is choosing to be passed around.  This is hardly conducive to enabling people to feel that they can come forward as victims.  This is image based abuse.

Jess interviews one woman who has been impacted by such exchanging of images and felt that she became nothing more than a commodity to trade.  Sadly, as explored the impact of this has had a lasting impact, including suicidal ideations.

The concerning message that comes across from the documentary is how normalised it has become to trade images on the web without restriction or the consent of the individual in the images. Technology is so fast paced that our current laws do not keep up.

In regards  to consent, it is of course absolutely possible for someone to share a nude photo and consent for the recipient to have it for limited or particular purposes only, not to be shared.  This is somewhat more difficult where someone has allowed photos of themselves to be published online or in a magazine to strangers as discussed in Jess’ situation.

 

In Ireland in December 2020 the criminal images based sexual abuse bill was passed which provides more protection. However, in England and Wales an offence is only committed if sharing an intimate image is done with the intention to cause distress. This therefore has many loopholes. As we have previously discussed, progress is being made for change with campaigns like The Naked Truth which aims to make threats to share intimate images a crime. 

In regards to causes of action, there are a number of routes all very much depend on the facts of the case. 

There are potential claims for Harassment under the Harassment Act 1997 if there has been a course of conduct.

There may be a claim for intentional infliction of harm if there has been unjustified conduct which has caused psychiatric injury. For example, sharing photos without consent or inducing a child to take photos or sending photos of oneself might be unjustified conduct.  So might putting someone's face on someone else's nude body (deepfakes). Also sharing a photo that was provided for a limited purpose. 

Misuse of confidential information if confidential and private information (including images) is given to someone in a relationship of trust and confidence who makes unauthorised use or disclosure of it, there is a claim.  So, this would also cover images freely shared in a relationship and then misused.  It would also cover other information shared.

Infringement of privacy. This overlaps with the above and is a cause of action where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. 

Breach of copyright of whoever owns the photograph. There may also be a claim under Data Protection depending on the facts.

Again, depending on the facts of the case would depend on who the potential defendant to make the claim against is.

The person who posts the image would be the most obvious defendant.  The person who takes the picture of the victim or is given it for a limited purpose and then shares it. 

Sharers might be liable depending on the circumstances in which the image came into the sharer's possession. Sadly, the people hosting the websites sharing multi folder images are likely to be organised criminals which would not be operated by reputable UK domiciled businesses. 

There is also difficulty consumers who just view the images if they are not themselves selling them on.

We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at  Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com

Holly grew up in a small town in Washington State.  At 3 years old her stepfather began to abuse her.  The abuse continued until she was 12 when her mother and stepfather divorced. 

 

At 14, Holly disclosed the abuse she had suffered to her mother.  Holly found out her stepfather had also abused the young children in the next family he went to.

 

Holly went on to testify against her abuser. He was offered a plea deal to plead guilty to indecent liberties (which is fondling or touching in America) instead of being charged with sexual abuse or rape.  He was sentenced to less than a year.  When he got out he moved back in with the children he had abused and his wife breaking his bail conditions.  He was sent back to prison for a few years.

 

Her abuser was removed from the sexual predator list as Washington State has a law to protect those falsely accused and invites those with good behaviour off the list after a time.

 

At 40 Holly’s marriage broke down. She was not faithful. She commenced trauma counselling, a 30-day intensive trauma program.  Holly realised she was holding on to so much guilt about not disclosing her abuse sooner.  She believes it is never too late to seek help and recovery options for everyone.

 

It is now 12 years since she entered the recovery program.  She has also attended Sex and Love Addiction meetings and completed another two-week outpatient intensive course on relationships as a mom and abandonment issues.

 

Holly is now focused on how can she can give back to other survivors? She is now a certified coach focusing on helping professionals. She relocated to Northern Ireland and has spent the last year working for a charity that focused on providing counselling of those affected by sexual assault. 

 

Holly’s goal now is to be an advocate for survivors by becoming an Ambassador for NAASCA.  She started ASCA meetings for survivors in Northern Ireland and therapist. Holly’s ultimate goal is to open an intensive program in Northern Ireland and advocate for survivors.

 

We encourage anyone who has concerns about sexual abuse to get in touch. You can contact Alan Collins at Alan.collins@hughjames.com or Danielle Vincent at  Danielle.vincent@hughjames.com

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