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Collecting evidence safely

Collecting evidence of tech abuse helps prove patterns of abuse and is needed to support your case with police and courts to act on your behalf. 
 

Although it is important to collect evidence, it is even more important that you stay safe. Make sure you collect evidence only when it is safe to do so and keep it somewhere safe.

    There are laws that cover behaviours like cyberstalking, sending threatening emails, texts, or messages, installing spyware, cyberbullying and sharing intimate images without consent.

    If abuse or threatening behaviour has been carried out on a social media platform, app, website or other online service, evidence can help if you want to report the content and get it removed, or the abusive user to be blocked from using that service. 

    eSafety has legal powers to help protect people who live in Australia from the most serious online abuse and harmful content. Read more about our regulatory schemes and how we can remove seriously harmful content.

    On this page:

    How to collect evidence

    Collect evidence only when it is safe to do so, but make sure you act quickly in case the material is removed. It is important to provide factual proof of the abuse and the order in which it happened, so that it can be used as evidence in court.

    Take note of the following advice before collecting evidence:

    • Speak to a lawyer, legal service or the police about what is happening and ask them about the kind of evidence you will need to show that a crime is being committed. 
    • Be aware there may be issues around the collection of images of people under 18. It is illegal to possess or share content that could be considered child sexual exploitation material.

    Evidence should be collected carefully and stored safely:

    • Take screen shots of abusive posts, texts or emails. If you are not sure how to do this, see our ‘how to’ videos on how to take screen shots on Apple devices, Android devices, Macs and PCs.
    • Save or copy voicemail messages.
    • Keep a record of any abuse using technology and suspicious incidents, as these may help to establish the wider context and demonstrate patterns of abusive behaviour.
    • Evidence needs to clearly explain exactly what happened and the order in which it happened. Take careful notes about each piece of evidence you collect, such as a description of the evidence, the date and time it was collected and where it was collected from.
    • Store all evidence securely and keep records of who has access to any physical documents, online files, and your devices (phones, tablets, computers and any storage devices such as USBs). This is important as the integrity of evidence needs to be maintained — the evidence must not be tampered with or manipulated in any way.

    The NSW Police website has information on how to record stalking.The type of evidence needed might differ in your state or territory so check with a lawyer or your local police. Documenting every incident will assist the police in forming a strong case.  

    Stalking often involves a long term pattern of events which is why each and every incident and experience should be recorded and reported to the police.

    Just be aware that one incident on its own may not be considered stalking, so it’s important that each incident you experience should be recorded and reported to the police so that it can be identified that there is a pattern occurring. Make a record of every incident of stalking no matter how insignificant you may think it is or how many incidences there are.

    If you are collecting evidence about image-based abuse (the non-consensual sharing of intimate images) of a person under 18, you will need to follow the steps for reporting child sexual abuse material.

    'How to' videos

    Audio

    To take a screenshot on an iPhone, iPad or iPod, press and hold the power button on the top or side of the device and then press the home button.

    The screen will flash indicating that a screen shot has been taken.

    Swipe the image to the left to save in photos.

    It will disappear from the screen but be saved in the Camera and Photos files.

    To save the screenshot in a different file, or email it, touch the image to open it.

    Crop the image if required.

    Select the Upload icon.

    Select where the image should be sent.

    If the screenshot is in the Photos or Camera file, it can also be shared by selecting Upload, and choosing the right option.

    Taking a screenshot on an Apple device (with a home button)

    Audio

    To take a full screenshot on an Apple Mac, press the Command, Shift, and 3 keys down all at the same time. 

    The screenshot image will be saved to the Mac desktop.

    To take a screenshot of only part of the screen, simultaneously press the Command, Shift, then the 4 keys. 

    The cursor will then change to a cross-hair pointer.

    Move the cross-hair to where you want to capture. Click and drag to select an area.

    To adjust the area, hold Shift, Option, or the Space bar while you drag.

    When you've selected the area you want, release your mouse or trackpad.

    The screenshot image will be saved to the Mac desktop.

    Find out more at eSafety for Women.

    Taking a screenshot on a Mac

    Audio

    Due to the large number of different devices that use Google's Android operating system, there are different ways screenshots can be taken.

    If the methods we describe in this video don't work for your device, we suggest a Google search on how to take a screenshot using your particular device.

    For Samsung Galaxy devices, press and hold the power button, then the home button for one to two seconds to take the screenshot. 

    Another option is to turn on the palm swipe to capture option in the Motion and Gesture settings of some Samsung Galaxy devices. With this enabled, simply swipe across the screen from left to right with the side of your hand to take the screenshot.

    For Android devices from most other manufacturers, press and hold the power button, then the volume down button for one to two seconds to capture the screenshot.

    Most Sony Xperia devices offer an additional method. Press and hold the power button for one to two seconds until the power options appear. If the option is available, select take a screenshot. 

    Once the screenshot is captured, it will be automatically saved in the default gallery or photo app on the device.

    If none of these methods work for your new device, it might be running a version of Android earlier than 4.0. You may need to download a third-party screen capturer from the Google Play store.

    Google search how to take a screenshot with the name of your device to find a solution if the methods described in this video don't work on your device.

    Taking a screenshot on an Android device

    Audio

    To take a screenshot from a PC, you can use the print screen function.

    Begin by opening the window you want to capture, then press alt and print screen by holding down the alt key and then pressing the print screen key.

    The print screen key is often in the top row of keys on a keyboard near the upper right corner.

    Click Start. Then select Paint.

    In the Paint window, open a new page and click Paste.

    Click File, and then click Save As.

    In the Save As dialog box in the File Name box, type a name for the screenshot.

    And then click Save. The file is now ready to be sent. 

    You can also use the snipping tool.

    Go to Start, then select the Snipping Tool.

    In the Snipping Tool, select New.

    Use your cursor to select the area that you want to snip.

    Save the snip or send it.

    You can also print the actual page using a printer.

    Select the Print option from the menu.

    Select the preferred printer and Options. Then select Print.

    Before printing the page, it's a good idea to check Print Preview to make sure the page will print in a suitable format and includes all items on the page.

    If not, it's best to take a screenshot instead.

    Once it is printed, the URL or web address will appear at the bottom of the page.

    Taking a screenshot on a PC

    Getting help with the evidence collection

    A lawyer or legal service can provide advice about the evidence you need to apply for a protection order or to prove the abuser's behaviour is criminal.

    You, or a lawyer or legal service on your behalf, can also speak to the police about what evidence is required.

    Types of evidence the police might need include your name and contact details, and whether you have a protection order in place. If you know who is responsible for the tech abuse, a photograph of that person could be helpful along with their name, contact details, the car they drive and any criminal history.

    Read more on our police and legal help page.

    Last updated: 13/12/2023