Image-based abuse

If you’re under 25 and you think you might be involved in image-based abuse, you can get free and confidential legal help from us here

It is never OK to take, send, share or post a nude, sexual or other invasive picture or video  (sometimes called ‘nudes’) of someone online without their permission, or to threaten to do so. 

This is called image-based abuse (sometimes known as ‘revenge porn’) and it’s a crime.

If you are looking for information about sharing sexual or invasive images or videos between two consenting people, check out our page on Sexting for more information.

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What is image-based abuse?

Image-based abuse is where someone films, shares or shows, or threatens to share or show, an invasive moving or still image of someone without their consent. This applies both in person and online, and includes showing or sending the image to another person, or posting the image online.

An “invasive image” is a picture or video that shows:

  • a person’s bare genitals, breasts or anal area, 
  • a person doing a sexual act, or
  • a person going to the toilet.

It doesn’t have to be a real photo – an invasive image can also include pictures and videos that have been drawn or photoshopped without the consent of those pictured.

“Indecent filming” includes taking still or moving pictures of,  

  • a person undressed where they would expect privacy, 
  • a person doing anything else people usually do in private,
  • a person’s genital or anal region or breasts, whether undressed or wearing underwear, where they would expect not to be filmed (for example, filming up someone’s skirt)

In SA, it is illegal to:

  • send, share or post online an invasive image of someone without their consent,
  • engage in indecent filming,
  • send, share or post online images obtained through indecent filming,
  • threaten to send, share or post online invasive images or images obtained through indecent filming.

What is consent?

To give consent, the law says that the person in the image must have freely and voluntarily agreed to the image being taken and/or sent on that specific occasion. If a person shares an image of themselves, it does not mean they have consented to the image being shared to or seen by other people. Consent must be given on each and every occasion. 

It is never safe to assume someone has consented to you taking or sending nude, sexual or invasive images of them. 

Consent doesn’t count if they were threatened, forced to agree, lied to or tricked into agreeing. The person must be conscious and awake to give consent. People who are asleep or drunk can’t consent. If someone agrees to have sex or engage in a sexual act, it does not mean that they also consent to it being recorded or photographed. And remember – people are allowed to change their minds!  

Under the laws in SA, a person under 17 is not able to consent at all to having their invasive images taken or shared. These images may also be child abuse material under the national laws, and these laws apply to anyone under 18. So if the person in the picture or video is under 18, it is a crime to take, record, send, share or post any invasive image or video, even if that person said it was OK. For more information about the laws that apply to people under 18 years old, you can have a look at our page on Sexting. 

What if someone is threatening me?

In SA, it is against the law to threaten someone with sending or sharing an invasive image or image obtained from indecent filming of them, making them fear that the threat will, or is likely to, happen. A person’s consent to take or share an invasive image or video does not count if they were threatened or forced to do so. If you have sent someone invasive images or videos and they threaten to post them online or share them with other people, they are breaking the law.

There are also laws that apply across Australia that make it illegal to use a phone or internet service in a way that is menacing, harassing or offensive. This includes sending or posting images that are likely to have a serious effect on someone, for example by making them feel scared or seriously angry or upset and images of private sexual material, which includes images of the breasts, genital or anal region of someone over 18 years old or someone over 18 years old doing a sexual act or pose where they would expect privacy. 

What can I do if someone has shared or threatened to share my intimate images?

If someone has shared, or threatened to share your intimate images, there are steps you can take. As a first step, we strongly recommend that you do not give in to the person’s threats and that you get free and confidential help straight away.

Collect evidence

First, we recommend that you collect evidence of any threats and images that have been shared without your consent. For example, you can take screenshots or print images of the abuse or threats. For more information on collecting evidence, check out these guides: How to collect evidence and Collecting information.

Getting the images removed

If your image has been posted online, you can report it to the website or social media service to get it removed.

If the image is not taken down, you can also report it to the eSafety Commissioner here: https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/image-based-abuse/take-action/report-to-esafety-commissioner

The eSafety Commissioner can help to get the images taken down or take action against the person who sent or posted them. In some cases the Commissioner might need to report it to the police.

Legal advice

You might be able to take legal action against the person or get help to get the images removed. Every situation is different, and a lawyer can help you understand your options. 

For free legal advice, you can contact us or contact one of these services:

or one of these services:

Report it to the police

If you think you are a victim of one of the crimes we’ve talked about above you can report it to the police. But it’s a good idea to get legal advice or talk to someone first, especially if you’re worried about anything you’ve said or done.

You should contact the police immediately if someone is threatening or scaring you. If you are in immediate danger call 000

Talk to someone

If you or someone you know has experienced image-based abuse, it’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust, like a friend, your parents or another trusted adult. 

If you would rather talk to someone you don’t know, you can call one of the following services for free and private counselling support.

  • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (available 24/7, for young people between 5 and 25)
  • eHeadspace 1800 650 890 (available 9am to 1am, everyday, for young people between 12 and 25)
  • 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732 (available 24/7, for all ages)
  • QLife 1800 184 527 (available 3pm to midnight, everyday, for all ages)
  • Lifeline 13 11 14 (available 24/7, for all ages)

 

What can I do if someone has shared or threatened to share my intimate images?

If you commit one of the crimes we have talked about above, the consequences can be very serious. You could be investigated and charged by the police, and if you are found guilty you could end up with a criminal record or even go to jail. 

If you have committed one or more of these crimes and you are contacted by the police, we strongly recommend that you get legal advice straight away.

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