Image-based abuse

For free and confidential advice about image-based abuse, you can get help here.

It is never OK to take, send, share or post a nude, sexual or other intimate 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 intimate 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 shares or threatens to share, a nude, sexual or intimate image or video of another person 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 “intimate image” is a picture or video that shows:

  • A person’s genitals, breasts or anal area,
  • A person engaged in sexual activity, 
  • A person in a manner or context that is sexual,
  • A person undressed, showering, bathing or going to the toilet, or
  • A person doing anything else people usually do in private.

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

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here.

What is consent?

To give consent, the law says that a person in the image must give free agreement to the image being taken and/or sent in that specific manner. If a person takes or shares an image of themselves, it does not mean they have consented to the image being taken or shared to or seen by other people. 

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

A person must be conscious and awake to give consent. People who are asleep or drunk can’t consent. Also, their consent doesn’t count if they were threatened or because they were held against their will. 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!  

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 Victoria, it is against the law to threaten to share an intimate image of a person. If you have sent someone intimate images or videos and they threaten to post them online or share them with other people, that is against 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.

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.

1. 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 about collecting evidence check out these guides: How to collect evidence and Collecting information.

2. 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

3. 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:

4. Report it to the police

If you have been threatened with your images, or your image has been shared without your consent, you can report it to the police. 

You can make a report to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at https://www.crimestoppersvic.com.au/

For non-emergency matters, you can phone the police assistance line on 131 444.

If you are ever in immediate danger, please call the police on 000.

5. 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 9 am to 1 am, every day, for young people between 12 and 25)
  • 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732 (available 24/7, for all ages)
  • QLife 1800 184 527 (available 3 pm to midnight, every day, for all ages)
  • Lifeline 13 11 14 (available 24/7, for all ages)

Consequences for breaking the law

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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