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Legal case studies

People experiencing image-based abuse may choose to seek legal assistance.

These case studies outline some real-life experiences told by those who have taken a legal path.

Adriana and James*

Adriana and her husband James lived in Brisbane. Adriana found that James had created fake online profiles of her on an adult website, using sexually explicit photos with degrading and humiliating descriptions of her.

Adriana was horrified and reported the incident to the police.

The police charged James with a section of the Criminal Code Act 1995, for committing the offence of ‘using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence’.

James pleaded guilty to the charge. The judge stated that what James did amounted to family violence and asked that James undergo psychological assessment and counselling, as well as a behavioural change program.

In addition to legal proceedings, Adriana made an image-based abuse report to us. eSafety was able to get her photos removed from the website, and Adriana was referred to counselling and support.

*The names and identifying details in this case study have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.

Layla and Ben*

Layla and Ben were university students and high school sweethearts. Ben and Layla took intimate photos of one another, consensually, when Layla was 17 and Ben was 18. Ben saved these onto a cloud storage device and never shared them. To his horror, one of Ben’s friends told him that intimate images of Layla were publicly available on a few sites.

Ben reported the incident to the police as well as to eSafety.

He informed them that at the time some of the images were taken, Layla was under 18.

eSafety was able to have the images removed and continues to take action with the site every time an intimate image of Layla is uploaded.

*The names and identifying details in this case study have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.

Caroline and Neil*

Caroline and Neil were fly-in fly-out employees in a mining company when they began a romantic relationship. They stayed together at Neil’s house every fortnight or so, and during the course of their relationship, sent each other intimate photos of themselves. Neil also took intimate photographs of Caroline with her knowledge and consent, and on several occasions, Caroline sent Neil intimate videos of herself.

After dating for a year Caroline believed Neil was cheating on her and ended their relationship by text message. After he received the break-up message, Neil posted 16 intimate photographs and two intimate videos of Caroline onto his Facebook page, making the content visible to 300 ‘Facebook friends’.

Caroline went on to sue Neil and the civil law case was brought before the Supreme Court of Western Australia. During the trial, Caroline outlined that the intimate images were shared with Neil on the understanding that they would be kept private, and not be shared with others.

The court found in favour of Caroline.

They held that Neil posting the intimate content online constituted a breach of confidence. Caroline was awarded damages, compensated not just for economic loss arising from her inability to work for a period of time, but also $35,000 as an effort to compensate her for the humiliation, anxiety and distress that Neil had caused.

This is a summary of Wilson v Ferguson (2015) WASC 15.

*The names and identifying details in this case study have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.

Zoe and Leo*

Zoe and Leo were in a long-distance relationship. When they were apart, they often communicated via Skype and sometimes things got intimate. Without Zoe knowing, Leo recorded videos of their Skype calls.

After six months, Zoe told Leo that she was struggling with the distance between them and suggested that they take a break from the relationship. Leo didn’t take the news well.

He uploaded the videos of Zoe he had recorded without her permission to a porn website and posted comments calling Zoe a cheater and other names, and other men on the website also added hurtful comments. Leo then sent several abusive messages to Zoe, along with the link to her videos on the site.

Zoe was devastated. She googled ‘help with naked images’ and found eSafety’s image-based abuse report form.

She made a report about what was happening. eSafety contacted Zoe, made sure she was okay, and connected her with counselling support. They asked her for more information so they could work out the best ways to help.

After talking to Zoe, eSafety contacted the website, which removed the videos. eSafety also issued Leo with a formal warning. The warning let Leo know that his actions were against the law and that he could face further penalties if he shared the videos again.

*The names and identifying details in this case study have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.