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Collect evidence

People who have experienced online abuse and harassment often want the abusive material removed immediately.

But it is important to preserve evidence first.

If you have experienced serious and harmful online abuse and harassment you may want to report it to the police or take legal action. To do so, it is helpful to collect evidence before the content is removed. Evidence can help you show the police and the courts exactly what happened.

Evidence can also be useful if you plan to report the abuse or threatening behaviour to the site or social media service it was posted on. Showing evidence of the online abuse can help to have the person who shared the abusive material blocked from that service. It may also help prevent this content from being shared again in the future.

Report abuse

How do I collect evidence?

You can save evidence of any abusive material that has been posted online, including posts, images and videos, by taking screenshots or photos of the content. You should also save or record evidence of the webpage addresses (URLs) or social media services where the abusive material has been shared.

Always record the time and date you collected the evidence.

If possible, also record the times and dates the abusive material was shared, including any other information that you think may be important. This might include the username/s of the person or people who shared the material.

Taking a screenshot

Screenshots are a quick and effective way of preserving evidence. They may also have the added advantage of recording other details such as usernames and dates, but it is important to also take detailed records to accompany screenshots. See our ‘how to’ videos about taking screenshots.

‘How to’ videos

Taking a screenshot on an Apple device

Taking a screenshot on a Mac

Taking a screenshot on a PC

Taking a screenshot on an android

What if the online abuse involves intimate images of people who are under 18?

Be aware that possessing, creating or sharing sexualised images of people under 18 may be unlawful. For more information about relevant laws in Australia, visit Youth Law Australia.

If you encounter child sexual abuse material online, please report it to eSafety via our online report form. Reports can be made anonymously.

Other information to document

This information will be useful to provide context for the screenshots or photos of the abusive material you have saved. It can demonstrate more clearly why the material is affecting you.

  • Duration — how long has the abuse been going on? Is it happening daily, weekly, every month, every few months?
  • Intensity — has the abuse got worse over time? Has the language the abusive person is using become more abusive, threatening or demanding over time?
  • Relationship — is the abusive person known to you? If so, what is your relationship with this person? For example, are they an ex-partner? If the abuse is part of domestic and family violence and you feel unsafe, contact the police immediately.
  • Impact — how has the abuse made you feel? Do you feel frightened or scared? Do you feel upset? Has it affected your ability to work or carry out other responsibilities? If you are feeling frightened or unsafe, contact the police immediately. If you need support, find a counselling or support service that is right for you.
  • Action taken — what actions have you already taken to try and stop the abuse? Have your reported previous abusive posts? Have you reported fake accounts? Have you blocked accounts the abusive person is using?