On 3 March, after a long and highly publicised case, the reality TV personality Stephen Bear was sentenced to 21 months in prison for sharing private sexual videos online without the consent of his ex-partner, influencer Georgia Harrison.
Revenge Porn: Georgia vs Bear followed Ms Harrison’s journey to trial, and sought to lift stigma and give hope to other victims: only 6 per cent of revenge porn crimes resulted in a suspect being charged or even summoned to court between 2015 and 2021.
Due to the public nature of the case and the quick turnaround of the documentary, Georgia vs Bear wasn’t driving towards a big narrative reveal. Instead, the film took the opportunity to tell a slower, more human version of a story that has been making tabloid headlines and unfolding on social media since it broke in 2020.
While Ms Harrison was striving to shake off her influencer identity and be taken seriously, Bear seemed increasingly intent on making a spectacle of every moment. The doc cut between footage of Ms Harrison and her mum, Nicola, preparing for trial, and Bear’s outlandish social media activity (he asked his Twitter followers to vote on what colour suit he should wear to court. Pink won. Other costumes included fur coats and cobra-headed canes.)
When they met, both had been forging careers in the public eye. Following her appearances on TOWIE and Love Island, Ms Harrison and Bear (Celebrity Big Brother, Shipwrecked, Ex on the Beach) first got together on 2018 game show The Challenge. “I really was swept away by him. He was so charming,” Ms Harrison said of their whirlwind romance. “I really thought I loved him.”
But what initially seemed like stupid bragging on Bear’s part – sending a video of them having sex to a friend without thinking of the consequences – began to look increasingly Machiavellian.
As the trial came to a head, it was hard to avoid the assumption that Bear had planned the whole thing as a publicity stunt. Certainly, the video was something he profited from by selling it on OnlyFans. “Mr Bear suggested that someone had hacked his account, which rather begged the question, why would a hacker do that in order to financially benefit Mr Bear?” said Ms Harrison’s lawyer.
When it comes to revenge porn, a huge part of the pain inflicted is down to its public nature – not only has the victim been violated, but everyone they know might have witnessed it. In Ms Harrison’s words: “It just makes you feel like you’re so not important… so damaged”.
The humiliation of the crime was exacerbated by Ms Harrison’s public profile: she didn’t have the anonymity of many other victims. But she refused to be cowed, determined that her experience could empower others: “Hopefully one day, girls can look at me and think, she went in there, she’s done it, she was strong, we can do it.”
With two celebrities at its centre, Georgia vs Bear was never going to be representative of the average revenge porn experience. But it’s that same fame that will allow the story to reach millions of people and increased awareness is invaluable. “The average prison sentence for revenge porn is six months,” said Ms Harrison. “But the vast majority of men who do this get away with a fine or a suspended sentence.”
Charismatic and single-minded, Ms Harrison was a worthy spokeswoman for those who find themselves in her horrifying position: that the justice she received is rare, only added fuel to her fire.