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Online image abuse – a new form of violence

Online image abuse – a new form of violence

You might not have heard the term ‘image-based abuse’ but you probably know what it is. This form of abuse happens when a nude or sexual image of a person is taken or shared without their permission. Learn how to protect yourself from this crime.

Image-based abuse is often called ‘revenge pornography’. That’s how it is most often spoken about in the media, but revenge is not always the reason behind image-based abuse. People might use this type of abuse for lots of reasons, including for blackmail or to embarrass or control someone.

We have all read tales of the vengeful ex, the abusive partner, sexual predators and blackmailers. But most commonly it is about people on-sharing intimate images and videos sent to one person privately, for ‘fun’ or to be cruel. They do this without caring about the consequences for the person shown.

How to protect yourself

You can take steps to minimise the risks of sharing intimate content:

Be wary of offers of ‘easy money’ or other promises that sound too good to be true.
Be suspicious if someone you don’t know randomly contacts you online.
If you are thinking of becoming an intimate content creator on a paid subscription site, consider the risk of wider distribution of this content.
If you do become an intimate content creator, take steps to protect your personal information and identity so scammers can’t threaten to expose you by not using your real name and not showing your face.
There are several steps you should take if someone shares or threatens to share your intimate content:

Don’t give in to demands as this could cause the demands to escalate.
Cut off contact. People who threaten to share content are generally less likely to go ahead if the person targeted refuses to engage with them.
Take screenshots of the threats. If you are worried about screenshot notifications being sent to the person threatening you, take a photo of the threats with another device.
Report the user to the platform and then block them. Continue to do this for any new accounts the scammer creates to contact you. 
Report the sharing or threat to eSafety. Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant leads the world’s first government agency committed to keeping its citizens safer online. The federal government agency has a team dedicated to helping Australian victims of image-based abuse.
For more information about image-based abuse and how to report it, read this online esafety guide.

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