Image-based abuse isn’t just about nudes.
Ariba had been dating Simon for almost a year. They met at university and even though they were very different, they loved spending time together. He was respectful of her faith and even though he wasn’t religious, she thought they may have a future together.
She trusted him with everything. She even sent him a photo of herself without her hijab, a head covering which she always wore in public as part of her faith. He knew it was precious and understood the photo was only for him.
Their university courses were very demanding though and she eventually decided it was better just to be friends. He wasn’t happy about the break-up, but she thought he understood her reasons. They stopped hanging out as much and things seemed amicable, at least at first.
But things changed a couple of weeks later. He said he’d had time to think about it and he thought they should get back together. Ariba said that her feelings remained the same.
He started arguing that she wasn’t giving him a chance and maybe her family would like to see what sort of person she really is. He was mean about it and threatened to send the photo showing her without her hijab to her family. He said it would demonstrate to them that she’s not always the person she pretends to be.
Ariba couldn’t believe he would threaten her like that.
She knew how angry, hurt and ashamed her parents would be if they saw that she’d sent such an intimate photo to a boy.
She told Simon to delete the photo, but he kept threatening to send it. Ariba felt extremely anxious and didn’t know what to do or who to turn to for help. She knew it was a very private photo for her but wasn’t sure if the police or anyone would understand or do anything about it.
Ariba turned to her university counsellor for support, who recommended she report it to eSafety. They explained to Ariba that because Ariba wears her hijab in public for religious reasons, what Simon was doing was image-based abuse. eSafety put her in touch with a counselling service and also contacted Simon, letting him know that his behaviour was not acceptable. Simon apologised to Ariba and deleted the photo from his phone.
What Ariba wants others to know
Ariba wants everyone to know that intimate photos aren’t only nude or sexual photos. For her, to send a photo without her hijab was just as intimate as sending a topless photo.
She believes, more than ever, that trust is integral in relationships. But when that trust is broken, and an intimate image is involved, people should know that they can turn to eSafety for help.
*Ariba’s story combines the experiences and emotions of a number of individuals in this situation. Stock photo. Posed by model.