Media Statement - Sexting complaints on the rise

The Office is aware of a website which appears to be primarily used for posting and exchanging intimate or revealing images of Australian women. It has been alleged that many of the images on this site are being shared without the consent of the women involved, and that some of the images may be of women under the age of 18.

“It is deeply disturbing that young women are having to deal with this completely unacceptable situation in such a humiliating way,” says Acting Children’s eSafety Commissioner Andree Wright.

This month the Office also received an accelerating number of cyberbullying complaints from teenage girls about the unauthorised sharing of sexual images. The trend typically involves complaints from young females who are being blackmailed.

“The Office has been working closely with these teenagers, and where appropriate, their families, their schools and the police to have the complaints resolved,” says Wright.

In some instances teenage girls have received threats that images taken some years earlier would be given to friends, parents, or published online.

“We have heard from teenage girls who are horrified that a mistake they thought had gone away has come back to haunt them.

“I am deeply impressed by the courage of these girls. One girl bravely shared her story with younger girls at her school so they become aware of the risks and that help is available to them,” says Wright.

In response to the disturbing increase in the use of technology to control, stalk and abuse Australian women, earlier this year the Office launched a new initiative—eSafetyWomen—to empower all Australian women to take control of their online experiences.

“eSafetyWomen is an online resource portal for all Australian women who are at risk or are experiencing abuse, including practical advice for women who have experienced the misuse of intimate images online,” says Wright.

Australians under the age of 18 are encouraged to use the Office’s CyberReport function to report the misuse of intimate images and to provide information relating to the age of the person involved.

For more information please contact: Dominique Tomarchio on 02 9334 7873 or media@esafety.gov.au

Steps women should take include:

  • Visit esafety.gov.au/women to find advice about the steps you can take if intimate photos have been used without your consent. These steps include:
  • Keep evidence of the abuse by taking screenshots and noting the web addresses.
  • Google your own name to check what images appear and request for the pages to be blocked from Google search results.
  • Ask the website/app it appears on to remove it.
  • Ask the person, or get someone else to ask the person, who shared the photo or video to remove it and delete all copies.
  • Seek legal advice and get support.
  • Strongly consider reporting to police: there are laws in every State and Territory that deal with stalking and Commonwealth legislation that deals with the misuse of a carriage service (phone, email, text message) to make a threat, menace, harass or cause offence.
  • If you are under the age of 18, you should report it to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner who can assist in removing the material.

For parents concerned about initimate images of their children being misused online, information is available through our So You Got Naked Online resource.

For more information / arrange an interview, please see contact below.