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FAQ about image-based abuse

Check these frequently asked questions for a quick overview of issues and terms relating to image-based abuse, including ‘revenge porn’ and ‘sextortion’. 

Click or tap on the + to find answers to your questions, as well as related information and resources.

Image-based abuse – sometimes called ‘revenge porn’ – is when someone shares, or threatens to share, an intimate image or video of a person without their consent. 

The image or video can be real, or altered or faked to look like them, or shared in a way that makes people think it’s them, even when it’s not (such as a nude of someone else tagged with their name). 

It can be sent, posted or shared using:

  • an online platform or service (such as a social media feed, online game or other app) 
  • a website, such as an image board or porn site
  • a direct message, text message, chat service, email or file transfer (such as AirDrop or Nearby Share). 
     

  • Your ex-partner shares a nude selfie of you on social media without your consent
  • A co-worker alters a photo of you to make you look naked and emails it to lots of people
  • Someone you’re trying to break up with threatens to share a photo of you having sex unless you agree to keep dating them
  • A blackmailer threatens to send a recording of you getting sexual to all your online contacts – including friends and family – unless you pay them money
  • Someone anonymously posts a nude photo of you on a porn website
  • Someone tags a nude with your name, even though it’s not you.

Image-based abuse is sometimes called ‘revenge porn’ because some people do it to hurt a person who has ended a relationship with them, or threaten to do it unless they stay together. But this term can be misleading because often image-based abuse is done for other reasons. For example, intimate images or videos can be shared to boast to others, as a very unfunny ‘joke’ or to get the person shown into trouble.

As RMIT research explains, ‘images are being used in highly diverse and complex ways as a form of control, abuse, humiliation and gratification that goes well beyond the jilted ex-lover scenario…’

Read the eSafety Commissioner’s blog about why the term image-based abuse should be used.

‘Revenge porn’ websites are typically online businesses that encourage users to upload nude or sexual images of others, often with information about the person in the images such as names, addresses and links to personal profiles. They may encourage victims to pay money to have their images removed.

The most well-known ‘revenge porn’ websites are hosted overseas. It’s best not to contact these sites directly.

If your image or video has been posted on a ‘revenge porn’ website, report it to us and we will help to get it removed.

‘Sextortion’ or sexual extortion is a type of image-based abuse. It’s when someone tries to blackmail a person over a nude or sexual image or video of them. They may demand money, cryptocurrency, gift cards, gaming credits, or more nudes or sexual content.

If you’re being blackmailed DO NOT PAY or give them more money or intimate content. Stop all contact with the blackmailer and go to our special advice on how to deal with sexual extortion.

Remember, it’s not your fault if someone shares or threatens to share an intimate image or video of you without your consent. Even if you sent it to them in the first place or agreed to get sexual with them in a live chat, they have no right to share it with others.

No – the intimate image or video can be sent, posted or shared using:

  • an online platform or service, such as a social media feed, online game or other app
  • a website, such as an image board or porn site
  • a direct message, text message, chat service, email or file transfer (such as AirDrop or Nearby Share). 

An image or video is intimate if it shows, or appears to show:

  • you nude or partly naked – such as a naked selfie or a topless photo if you identify as female or non-binary
  • your genitals, bottom or breasts – even if you have underwear on (this includes upskirt shots) 
  • you during a private activity – such as undressing, using the toilet, showering, having a bath or engaging in sexual activity (including over a webcam)
  • you without clothing of religious or cultural significance, if you would normally wear it in public (such as a hijab or turban).

The image or video can be:

  • real
  • altered or faked to look like you
  • shared in a way that makes people think it’s you, even when it’s not (such as a nude of someone else tagged with your name).

Consent’ means someone gives their permission clearly, they fully understand what they’re agreeing to and they have not been pressured into it. 

Sharing your intimate image or video with one person doesn’t give them permission to share it with anyone else or let others see it. 

Note: A person under the age of 18 can’t legally consent to their intimate image or video being shared. This means it’s usually against the law, even if they tell you they agree – though exceptions can be made (for example, if you’re the same age and in a relationship). You can read more about this at the Youth Law Australia website.
 

If someone has shared or threatened to share an intimate image or video of you, you can follow the steps to report image-based abuse. eSafety can help remove it or stop the threats to share it.

Many online platforms and services will remove intimate images and videos that are reported to them, so you can report it to them if you prefer. For links to common platforms and services see The eSafety Guide.

Note: It’s best NOT to contact any ‘revenge porn’ sites directly, as they may try to blackmail you. Report it to eSafety instead.

If someone tries to blackmail a person over a nude or sexual image or video of them, that’s called sexual extortion or ‘sextortion’. The blackmailer may demand money, cryptocurrency, gift cards, gaming credits, or more nudes or sexual content.

If you’re being blackmailed, DO NOT PAY or give them more money or intimate content. Stop all contact with the blackmailer and go to our special advice on how to deal with sexual extortion.

Remember, it’s not your fault if someone shares or threatens to share an intimate image or video of you without your consent. Even if you sent it to them in the first place or agreed to get sexual with them in a live chat, they have no right to share it with others.

You can block your intimate image or video from being uploaded to specific platforms. You need to have a copy of the image or video, but you don’t need to send it to the platform – they will create a digital ‘fingerprint’ (or ‘hash’) instead.

If you’re under 18, you can use takeitdown.ncmec.org – a free online tool that prevents your image or video being shared on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Yubo, OnlyFans and Pornhub.

If you’re 18 or older, you can use StopNCII.org – a free online tool that prevents your image or video being shared on platforms such as FacebookInstagram, TikTok, Bumble, OnlyFans and Reddit.

If someone has shared, or threatened to share, your intimate image or video, see our Image-based abuse section for more help.

It's important to remember that what’s happened is not your fault. Even if you sent the image or video to the other person in the first place, or agreed to get sexual with them in a live chat, they have no right to share it with others. You’re not alone and help is available

Some people we’ve helped said they felt betrayed, broken-hearted, scared, angry or humiliated. Others felt ashamed or embarrassed, especially if they were scammed into sharing the nude or sexual content. Young people were worried they would be in trouble if their family or school found out. 

All these feelings are normal. 

Report the image-based abuse, so you can get help with removing the intimate content or stopping the threats.  

It’s also a good idea to reach out for support, from family members or friends or from a counselling and support service

Find out more about managing the impacts of image-based abuse.

People under 18 can make an image-based abuse report to us or ask someone else, like a parent or another trusted adult, to make a report on their behalf. Also, parents and guardians can make a report if their child is under 16.

If someone is under 18 and they’re being blackmailed with threats to share nudes or sexual images or videos of them, the best way to get help is to report it to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE).

Content that shows or encourages the sexual abuse of a child or young person under 18 is illegal – this includes images and videos that sexualise and take unfair advantage of them.

Please report this illegal content to eSafety, so we can make sure the service or platform removes the content. Illegal content reports can be made anonymously. Every image or video removed helps prevent the re-victimisation of the child or young person.

It’s important not to judge, blame or shame your child if they experience image-based abuse – even if they willingly shared the nude or sexual content in the first place. No one deserves to be abused. 

It’s likely they’re already feeling betrayed, broken-hearted, scared, angry or humiliated. They could also feel ashamed or embarrassed, especially if they were scammed into sharing the nude or sexual content. And they may be worried that they’ll be in trouble from you or their school. 

If they don’t get good support, the experience may have long-term impacts on their sense of safety, trust and self-esteem. It can cause a sense of hopelessness and despair, and may even lead to depression and self-harm.

It’s best to focus on helping them report so the image-based abuse content can be removed. You can also help them contact a counselling and support service.

Find out more about how to help someone deal with image-based abuse. You can also read advice on how to talk with young people about sending nudes and sexting and watch our video for parents and carers on online sexual harassment and image-based abuse.

It’s important not to judge, blame or shame your friend if they experience image-based abuse – even if they willingly shared the nude or sexual content in the first place. No one deserves to be abused. 

It’s likely they’re already feeling betrayed, broken-hearted, scared, angry or humiliated. They could also feel ashamed or embarrassed, especially if they were scammed into sharing the nude or sexual content. If they’re young, they may be worried that they’ll be in trouble with their parents or their school. 

If they don’t get good support, the experience may have long-term impacts on their sense of safety, trust and self-esteem. It can cause a sense of hopelessness and despair, and may even lead to depression and self-harm.

It’s best to focus on helping them report so the image-based abuse content can be removed. You can also help them contact a counselling and support service.

Find out more about how to help someone deal with image-based abuse.

If you initially consented to the image or video being shared or posted, and now no longer want it online, you can report the image to us by making an image-based abuse report.

In this situation your report to us is known as an ‘objection’. We may be able to help with getting the image removed online, but in this case we can’t take any action against the person who posted or shared it.

In Australia it’s a crime to share private sexual material of another person without their consent. 

Your local police may be able to help you.

  • They can work out whether there are criminal laws in your state or territory that apply to your experience. If so, they may be able to charge the person who shared your intimate image or video or threatened you.
  • They may be able to help protect you if the person is threatening to hurt you, or your family or friends. This can include getting a protection order from a court to say the person must stop doing things like:
    • sharing or threatening to share your intimate image or video 
    • approaching you
    • contacting you
    • monitoring where you go and what you do.

Even if the police are not able to investigate, ask them to take a report of your complaint or give you an event number. Keep a record of the police report or event number, so you have proof of your ongoing concerns if the abuse continues or gets worse. It’s also a good idea to ask the name and rank of the officer you speak with, in case you need to contact them again. 

There may be a specialist police officer you can talk to, depending on your situation, such as:

  • a specialist Domestic and Family Violence Liaison Officer
  • a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer
  • an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Liaison Officer
  • a Multicultural Community Liaison Officer.

Find out more about how to get police and legal help.

Last updated: 17/09/2023