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Image-based sexual abuse, Objectification, Sexual violence, Technology-facilitated sexual violence, Victim blame, Victim empathy


C. Senn


P. Timmons-Fritz



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) is an under-researched yet common form of violence against women. Victims of this form of violence are often blamed for the violence they endure, which influences their likelihood to seek help. The current study used an experimental vignette design and multiple regression analyses to understand the influence of the context of IBSA, gender, and objectification on individuals’ attributions of blame and responsibility to a victim and perpetrator of IBSA, as well as their empathy towards a victim of this form of violence, while controlling for rape myth endorsement. Results showed that participants placed more blame and responsibility on the victim and displayed less empathy toward the victim when the victim took their own explicit photo. Participants also displayed lower empathy to the victim of IBSA who earned a monetary reward for an explicit photo, and blamed the perpetrator of IBSA less when they took an explicit photo off a subscription-based website. On average, women reported more empathy towards the victim of IBSA compared to men, and individuals of any gender who endorsed rape myths to a greater degree placed more blame and responsibility on the victim of IBSA. Finally, when individuals objectified women to a greater degree, they displayed less empathy towards the victim of IBSA. This study is a first step in understanding the ways in which individuals view victims and perpetrators of IBSA, and findings provide important information for prevention and education efforts.

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