TV & Movies

Zara McDermott: Revenge Porn Will Draw On The Star's Own Experiences

The Love Island star was just 14 when a photo of her was shared without permission.

BBC / Summer Films / Slater King
By Bustle UK

Love Island and Made in Chelsea star Zara McDermott is fronting a new documentary about revenge porn, set to air on BBC Three. The documentary will look at the impact on victims and the legality around sharing intimate pictures, as well as exploring McDermott's own experiences with revenge porn at the age of 14 and again in 2018 just after she left the Love Island villa. Below are all the details you need to know about the upcoming show, including the inspiration behind it and the release date.

Police forces have reported cases doubling over four years, and the current global pandemic has sparked a surge in revenge porn cases in the UK, too. The Revenge Porn Helpline received a 22% increase in calls during the first lockdown compared to the previous year, the BBC reported.

When Will Zara McDermott: Revenge Porn Air?

BBC Three will release Zara McDermott: Revenge Porn on iPlayer tomorrow (February 23, 2021). It is set to air on BBC One at a later date, but we are still waiting on confirmation of an exact date.

What Is Zara McDermott: Revenge Porn About?

A large potion of Zara McDermott: Revenge Porn will be dedicated to McDermott's own experiences with having intimate photos leaked.

The first instance took place when McDermott was just 14 years old. Speaking to The Times on Feb. 12, McDermott explained that, during her school years, she was relentlessly bullied. This was the main reason why she felt pressure to send a nude image of herself to a boy who said it would make him "like [her] more."

"I honestly thought that if I took the picture, it would make him like me, and want to be with me, and I saw it as a way to prove myself to him," she told The Times.

Victoria Jones - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

Sadly, the boy leaked the image (an act that is now considered a criminal offence under anti-revenge-porn laws which came into effect in 2015) and it quickly spread around her school.

Speaking to The Sun on Feb. 15 this year, McDermott said the incident ruined her teenage years and left her suicidal. “It still affects me to this day and I don’t think it will ever go away. I was so scarred from that experience,” she said.

McDermott went on to explain that the boy who sent her image without her permission got off "scot-free," whereas she was suspended from the school in Upminster and branded a "slag" for what had happened.

Years later, the same thing happened again, this time with a trusted partner whom McDermott broke up with before entering Love Island. While McDermott was in Majorca, her ex sent intimate pictures of her to his friends, which were eventually leaked online.

Zara decided against pressing charges, partly because the current law against revenge porn says the prosecution must prove a perpetrator intended to embarrass or distress.

Speaking to The Sun about this, she said: "I didn’t have the proof of intent to cause distress, and that part of the law makes me angry. They’re missing out a huge chunk of victims because distress can be caused, whether intended or not, so that part of the law needs revisiting."

In an interview with Grazia, McDermott said that being a victim of this crime twice was one of the reasons that contributed to her doing the BBC Three documentary. “The first time, I see it as you go through processes of grieving,” she explained. “I felt so many emotions the first time, and the second time it happened to me I still felt some of those emotions but the anger came through that time. That anger definitely fuelled me wanting to make this documentary.”

Who Else Features In Zara McDermott: Revenge Porn?

In the documentary, members of McDermott's family, including her mum Karen, will shared their thoughts too and open up about what it was like to see their loved one become victim to revenge porn. Plus McDermott will speak to other victims to understand how pervasive and damaging this problem is.

Contributions from Orla Pentelow.