No-one deserves to be abused, threatened, harassed or stalked by someone in their family.
If this happens to you online, on your phone or other technology, it’s called tech abuse.
It can be hard to stay connected when you feel unsafe on your own devices. This advice will help you report tech abuse and look after your wellbeing.
On this page:
Dealing with online family violence
Aunty Deb: Hello, Shay, how's everything going? You OK?
Shay: Oh, hi, Aunty Deb. Uh, it's getting worse. Eli's now hacking into my accounts.
Aunty Deb: Oh, I'm so sorry, bub. When did you first notice?
Shay: Last night, he logged into my Instagram and then he posted a pic of me that was just meant for him. I couldn't even log into my account because he changed my password and everything. I managed to disable my account.
Aunty Deb: Oh, bub, I'm so sorry that this is happening to you right now, but I'm happy to help you set up some stronger passwords. But, remember, bub, you don't have to disable any of your accounts for him, alright?
Shay: I feel like I have no control.
Aunty Deb: He doesn't have control over you.
Shay: He's still trying to contact me. I blocked his number ages ago but now he's using random numbers. I don't know how he got my new number, but Eli's new woman keeps messaging me some real nasty stuff.
Friend: Oh nyorn, sis, that's shit.
Aunty Deb: Shay, if you wanna report this to the police, I can help you do that. And I can also help collect all the evidence safely too.
Shay: Mm, I don't know about contacting the police.
Aunty Deb: Mm, I know, bub. I completely understand and you know what, you don't have to make that decision right now, but it's important for you to collect all that evidence just in case you wanna do something about it in the future, yeah? The most important thing is that you feel safe in your own home.
Shay: Thanks Aunty Deb.
Shay: I'm worried Eli knows I've got a caseworker. I feel like I'm doing everything right but I just feel like I'm spiralling.
Friend: You could talk to these mob at 13Yarn. They can talk to you any time and give you some good advice, ay. They’re crisis support workers and they're confidential. You can give them a call on my phone so Eli can't track it.
Aunty Deb: It'll be okay, Shay. I'm so proud of you. You've been so strong and you've done everything that you can. Remember that, bub.
Shay: Thanks, Aunty Deb. A few sister girls have been asking me for help with some stuff they're going through. I didn't realise how many of our mob are going through this. It's not fair.
Aunty Deb: It's good that you can offer support, especially while you're going through it.
Shay: I reckon that's the best way. We need to be there for each other and call this out for what it is – abuse.
Video: Shay's story
What is tech abuse?
Our mob is more at risk of online hate and serious online harm than non-Indigenous people. Read about eSafety's First Nations research.
On top of this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have a higher risk of experiencing family violence.
This includes when a partner or ex-partner:
- sends a lot of abusive text messages
- makes threatening phone calls over and over
- posts hurtful things about you on social media
- tracks where you are
- hides cameras that film you
- shares, or threatens to share, nude or sexual images of you – sometimes called revenge porn.
What can I do?
Before you do anything else
You don’t have to cope on your own. It’s a good idea to tell a support worker or someone you trust. They can help you to report the abuse.
Take screenshots of the abusive content and store it safely so you have proof when you make a report. This can include posts, comments, photos, memes or videos.
Keep a record of the web page address (URL) and the other person’s user profile too. Find out more about collecting evidence.
There are different steps to take when reporting – depending on the type of abuse.
If someone shares – or says they will share – an intimate image or video of you, eSafety can help have the content removed or stop the threats.
If you’re being blackmailed
If someone says they will share your sexual images or videos, unless you send them money or more nudes, it’s called ‘sexual extortion’.
DO NOT PAY or give them more. Stop all contact with the blackmailer.
If you’re under 18 and being blackmailed, report this serious crime to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation.
If you’re 18 or older and being blackmailed:
- report it to the service or platform where the blackmailer contacted you
- report it to eSafety if the service of platform doesn’t help.
For other types of serious online hate and abuse (like harassing or stalking), report to the online platform or service where the abuse is happening. If they don’t remove the content, report it to eSafety.
Ignore, hide or mute the other person’s posts or comments so you don’t keep seeing them.
After collecting evidence, you can also block them through your account or on your device. This takes away their power to upset you more. The eSafety Guide can tell you how.
Need to close this page quickly? Use the ‘quick exit button’ at the top-right of this page. This won’t clear your browser history. Learn how to plan for online safety.
How to protect yourself
Being abused, threatened or stalked online is stressful. These tips can help you to be safe and feel in control:
- Get help from a support service or someone you trust.
- Set strong passwords.
- Turn off location services.
- Try to use a computer or device that the other person can’t control.
Find out more about connecting safely online.
It happened to me
Hey, my name is Alinta, and I'm a loved up Koori from Melbourne.
I have the best fella, Jesse. He works as a bartender and he's really protective.
He's always telling me that he wants to keep me safe, hey.
When I go out, he's always checking in on me and asking me who I'm with.
It's kind of sweet and annoying at the same time.
I'm just out with cousins. It shouldn't be a big deal.
Last time I got invited out I actually bailed, hey!
One of my sister girls made a comment about Jesse being a clinger. I got all shame.
Then the other day, down at the shops, I ran into an old school friend, Coen.
I haven't seen him in years, but we just started yarning and laughing like no time passed.
When I was telling Jesse about it later that night he was acting mad.
Like he even went through my phone to look at my messages and see my contacts.
He was demanding to know who I was hanging out with. He was making out that I was shady.
Now he texts me like 50 times a day saying I'm hopeless and a liar. He's even started to harass my friends and family.
I just feel so alone.
Coen: Hey, sis, how's it going? I just wanted to check in and see how you're doing.
Alinta: Hey Coen, I'm going alright.
Coen: Hey, I just wanna let you know that I've been getting heaps of these weird messages from Jesse, like asking if I've seen you lately.
Alinta: Argh, I'm sorry about that, hey. It's making me so shame, but I think he's trying to protect me.
Coen: Maybe. I just want to see if everything's OK because, you know, it doesn't have to be like this.
Alinta: He loves me, you know, but sometimes, I don't know, it doesn't feel like that.
Coen: He shouldn't be treating you like that. It's just not right.
Jealousy is not love. Harassment is not love. Healthy support networks are important. It is OK to ask for help.
If you think technology is being used to harm you, please contact Djirra for help or eSafety to report image-based abuse.
Hey, my sisters. I'm Kirra. I just want to tell you about my fella, Josh.
He makes me feel so good and he's always saying how much he loves me.
The other day, though, something weird happened.
I was out with my besties taking selfies at different bars, then, randomly, Josh showed up.
I was so confused because he told me he didn't want to come out, but then he just turned up.
He was real mad as well because he said he had to find out on Instagram where I was.
Afterwards, he said he was sorry. He just needs to know where I am because he wants me to be safe.
He told me I should text him where I am when I go out.
I thought it was a bit over the top, but he said it's to protect me, and I love him, you know.
Then, a few nights later, I was cleaning at home and I found this weird cube thing. I googled it and it turns out it was a camera.
I freaked out. I didn't know where this thing came from, or if there were any more.
I call my bestie and she reckons it's probably Josh because he's been possessive and he knows where I am all the time.
I wasn't sure, so I asked him to go on a break.
Then he started messaging me all the time, asking me where I am and what I'm doing.
It was so creepy, hey. I had to block him and make my account private.
It still feels like he's watching me 24/7.
I can't seem to escape him. Like, I would be at a cafe and he would drive by.
I am so scared. It turns out he is literally stalking me. Even my mechanic found a tracking device on my car.
I've decided to take off and go stay with Nan on Country. She's always good to yarn with. My sister girls and family are around too.
Watch out for red flags. Stalking is never OK. There is help available.
If you think technology is being used to harm you, please contact Djirra for help or eSafety to report image based abuse.
These videos were developed by Djirra and funded by the eSafety Women Dedicated Project Officer Grants Program.
Noni was being tracked on social media by a guy she went out with. She talked to her friend Jolene who gave her good advice about what to do.
A group of friends laugh together as they look at something on a mobile phone. Noni is sitting on the other side of the room by herself, looking at her phone with a sad expression. Her friend Jolene notices and walks over to check on her.
Jolene: Are you OK?
Noni: Yeah, I’m fine. Mm, I guess I'm a bit worried.
Jolene: What's wrong?
Noni: It's Dylan.
Jolene: Red flag Dylan? You went on one date, and it didn't work out right?
Noni: Yeah, but he keeps messaging me and asking where I'm going. It's getting a bit full on.
Jolene: Have you blocked him?
Noni: Yeah, but I guess we all share the same friends so he can see the posts that I'm tagged in too. Look, I sound paranoid, but I swear when I'm tagged in something and it's obvious where I am, he mysteriously shows up and I feel like he's following me.
Jolene: You don't sound paranoid. That's scary. You can call the cops if he keeps doing that.
Noni: I don't know. Doesn't feel real.
Jolene: Well, if he makes you feel unsafe and uncomfortable. That's real enough, isn't it?
A group of friends are in a kitchen, looking at album covers and laughing. Dylan sits at the end of the table, messaging on a mobile phone in response to a post on Instagram, “Hey, where are you all at? We’re about to head out, let’s meet up?” His friend comes over to him, looking for his phone.
Friend: Dylan! Bro, I don't care that yours is flat. Give me my phone back.
Dylan: Hey! Hey!
Friend: You were meant to order an Uber, like 10 minutes ago. What is this?
Dylan: I got distracted.
Friend: Bro, you were gonna send that from my phone? This is super messed up. Bro, this girl is clearly not interested in you.
Dylan: I'm just playing around. It's not even real.
Friend: Bro, pull your head in. It's real to her and it's just wrong.
Friend: It's not cool to do that to someone. It's creepy as, and you can get into a whole lot of trouble from the police for doing something like this. She blocked you for a reason, and I'm not bailing you out.
Online harassment is harassment. For more information, visit karadi.org.au and esafety.gov.au.
Video: Dealing with online harassment
Get confidential help from a support service
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Last updated: 27/03/2023