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Child abuse images still online six years after victim’s rescue

Photos of a child's sexual abuse are still being shared online, six years after she was rescued from her abuser.

The Internet Watch Foundation's report Once Upon A Year chronicles the experience of Olivia, who was raped and sexually tortured as a child.

Her abuse began at the age of three and she was rescued from her abuser in 2013 at the age of eight, according to the IWF.

The abuser was jailed but that has not stopped images of the abuse being shared online.

IWF is a charity which tries to stop the spread of child abuse images online. Team members search for abuse images and then try to get them removed from the internet.


In the report, a team member recalled Olivia as a "little girl with big green eyes and golden-brown hair" who was abused by "someone she trusted".

The IWF does not know the case details for legal reasons but they are told when their work results in someone being protected.

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Image: IWF analysts still see Olivia's pictures every day. File pic.

They said that the availability of images of Olivia's abuse, however, were allowing "heartless offenders to share and probably profit from Olivia's misery".

"To show exactly what 'repeat victimisation' means, we counted the number of times we saw Olivia's image online during a three-month period.

"We saw her at least 347 times. On average, that's five times each and every working day.

"In three out of five times she was being raped, or sexually tortured. Some of her images were found on commercial sites. This means that in these cases, the site operator was profiting from this child's abuse," the IWF said.

"We simply don't know if Olivia was aware that images of her abuse were being shared online. If she was, it's difficult to imagine how traumatic that knowledge must be, particularly for someone so young.

"However, we do know, from talking to adults who have suffered re-victimisation, that it's a mental torture that can blight lives and have an impact on their ability to leave the abuse in the past.

"Knowing an image of your suffering is being shared or sold online is hard enough. But for survivors, fearing that they could be identified, or even recognised as an adult is terrifying."

Olivia's story was released alongside a report showing that the charity found a record 105,047 URLs last year containing images of sexual abuse, much of it being shared on a commercial basis.

Only 0.4% of these were hosted in the UK and almost half of the imagery was discovered in the Netherlands.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, the CEO of the Internet Watch Foundation
Image: Susie Hargreaves says the problem is far from being solved

Earlier this year Home Secretary Sajid Javid vowed to do more to stop child abuse online but IWF chief executive Susie Hargreaves OBE said the problem was "far from being solved".

She added: "The cause of the problem is the demand. Unfortunately, and as the police tell us often, there are 100,000 people sitting in the UK right now demanding images of the abuse of children like Olivia."

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