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Talking with friends and family

If you have experienced image-based abuse it can be hard to talk about what happened.

But support from friends and family can make all the difference.

Friends and family have a very important role to play in helping people who have experienced image-based abuse. Research shows that people experiencing image-based abuse often turn to friends and family first for reassurance and support. 

Friends and family who offer unconditional support are the most helpful. The best support comes from people who are able to focus on your experience and not blame you for what has happened. Read our quick guide to image-based abuse for friends and family.

Who should you tell?

It is important to think through who to tell about image-based abuse, especially if you are feeling upset. Seek out people who will care for you and be supportive. Talking to people who have been understanding and supportive in the past is a good starting point to ensure you get the support you need now.

If, like lots of Australians, you feel like you do not have anyone close you can talk to about image-based abuse, there are professional counselling services that can provide immediate, non-judgemental support and advice. Even if you have friends or family members you can talk to, it is a good idea to talk to a professional counsellor as well.

Support services

How do you explain what happened?

There are many ways to explain to others what you have experienced.

If you find this difficult, here are some options you could try

  • Ask them to come over to talk about something important. Start with how you are feeling, and then talk about what happened and how it has made you feel.
  • Email or message them about what happened and how you are feeling. Let them know how they can help you — perhaps you would like them to help you make a report or maybe you just want to talk about how you are feeling.
  • Share the personal stories of other people who have experienced image-based abuse with them. Your Stories contains real-life stories of image-based abuse. These stories explore other people's experiences of image-based abuse, how they have talked with friends and family and what they did about it.

How will friends and family react?

People will respond in different ways to being told about your experience of image-based abuse. Some people might be shocked or outraged on your behalf. Some people might react with immediate sympathy, others may be less sympathetic. It is not your fault that intimate images or video of you have been shared without your consent, but some friends or family may ask you why you took or shared the image or video in the first place.

If this happens, ask your friend or family member to focus on your experience, to support you and help you to take action. 

You might need their help to

Let them know that you need their unconditional support and direct them to support and resources for friends and family.

If your relationship with your family is strained and you do not think your friends will understand, you may want to contact a professional counselling service for support.

Support services