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How to get police and legal help for image-based abuse

Sharing, or threatening to share, a nude or sexual image or video without the consent of the person shown is a crime in Australia. The police or a legal service may be able to help protect you.

On this page:

Stay safe

Emergency help in Australia, any time of the day or night

If you’re in Australia and in immediate danger or at risk of harm, call the police on Triple Zero (000).

If you’re experiencing image-based abuse as part of an abusive relationship, contact 1800RESPECT for help with safety planning.

​​​​​​​How the police can help

Sharing, or threatening to share, a nude or sexual image or video without the consent of the person shown is never OK. While eSafety can have the image or video removed, your local police may also be able to help.

  • 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 investigate who is responsible for sharing, or threatening to share, your intimate image or video.
  • 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 images or videos 
    • 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 with, depending on your situation, such as:

  • a 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.

Before you go to the police

It will be easier for the police to help if you give them as much information as you can about what happened, where and when. This includes showing them evidence so they can understand it. 

Taking screenshots, photos or recordings of your device’s screen is a quick and easy way to collect evidence. But don’t save or share nudes or sexual images or videos of anyone under 18 or any other illegal or restricted content. 

Find out how to collect evidence, including how to take screenshots on a Mac, Windows PC, Apple devices or Android devices.

This evidence might be added to a statement or statutory declaration when you go to police.

Also, it may be a good idea to get legal advice to help you engage with the police. 

Find your local police station:

Getting legal advice

A legal service or private lawyer can help by discussing your legal options if you have experienced image-based abuse. This may include how to apply for a protection order, if you need one. They can also help you engage with the police. 

It will be easier for them to help if you give them as much information as you can about what happened, where and when. This includes showing them evidence so they can understand it. It will save time if you collect evidence before you contact a legal service or private lawyer.

Taking screenshots, photos or recordings of your device’s screen is a quick and easy way to collect evidence. But don’t save or share nudes or sexual images or videos of anyone under 18 or any other illegal or restricted content. Find out how to collect evidence.

When you contact a legal services or private lawyer remember to first ask about all the fees and costs you may be charged. Some community legal services offer free advice.

Community legal centres are not-for-profit organisations that provide legal help and related services. Search Community Legal Centres Australia for your nearest community legal centre.

Women’s Legal Services are located in every state and territory in Australia. Women’s Legal Services provide advice, information, casework and legal education to women on a range of legal issues, particularly domestic and family violence matters. Find a Women’s Legal Service near you.

Youth Law Australia provides information, referrals, and advice for children and young people under the age of 25 on all legal issues. The topics they specialise in include ‘Internet, phones and technology’ and ‘Health, love and sex’. They can help you understand the laws around image-based abuse and can also suggest practical steps to help you stop the abuse. You can request legal advice using the Youth Law Australia Form.

Each state and territory has a legal aid commission that provides legal advice and representation on a range of legal issues. To find out more, contact the legal aid commission in your state or territory.

You may also be able to find a legal service that meets your individual needs. National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Services is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and Qlife provides referral information for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and/or intersex legal services.

Private lawyers

You can find a private lawyer near you:

Protection orders

You may be able to apply for a protection order through the police or a legal service.
A protection order can stop another person from doing things like:

  • sharing or threatening to share your intimate images or videos 
  • approaching you
  • contacting you
  • monitoring where you go and what you do.

If you get a protection order it’s a crime for the other person to breach it, so let the police know immediately if that happens. For example, if the order says the person must not threaten to share your intimate images but they keep threatening you, you should tell the police right away.

Make sure you keep a record of any times you think the other person has breached the order, as this may help if you need evidence against them later on. Read more about how to collect evidence.

Protection orders are known by different names in Australia’s states and territories, such as Domestic Violence Order, Peace and Good Behaviour Order, Intervention Order or Restraint Order.

What's the law in my state or territory?

Most states and territories have their own criminal laws which specifically cover image-based abuse. It may also be possible to use certain federal laws applied across Australia that cover:

  • the use of a carriage service to harass, menace or cause offence (with higher penalties for sharing private sexual material) 
  • indecent images or communications
  • classification offences
  • voyeurism or non-consensual filming
  • child sexual exploitation
  • grooming
  • stalking
  • threats of violence
  • blackmail
  • sexual harassment
  • breach of confidence.

Click or tap on the + to see the criminal laws that may apply to image-based abuse in your state or territory.

There are offences for the non-consensual distribution of intimate images and for threatening to capture or distribute intimate images. The offences are located in sections 72C, 72D and 72E of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT).

There are offences for recording, distributing or threatening to distribute an intimate image without consent. The offences are located in sections 91P, 91Q and 91R of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

There are offences for distributing intimate images without consent and threatening to distribute intimate images. The offences are located in Part VI Division 7A of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) (specifically sections 208AB and 208AC).

There are offences for recording, distributing or threatening to distribute an intimate image without consent. The offences are located in sections 207A, 223, 227A, 227B, 229A of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld).

There are offences for ‘humiliating or degrading filming’, ‘distribution of an invasive image of another person knowing or having reason to believe that the other person does not consent to the distribution of that image’, ‘engaging in indecent filming’ and ‘distributing an image obtained by indecent filming’. It is also an offence to ‘threaten to distribute an invasive image of a person’. The offences are located in sections 26A – 26E Part 5A of the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA).

There are currently no criminal laws specifically addressing image-based abuse in this state. However, there is an offence for making an ‘observation or recording in breach of privacy’ of another person and for possessing or distributing such a recording without their consent. The offences are located in sections 13A, 13B and 13C Part II Division I of the Police Offences Act 1935 (Tas).

There are offences of ‘distributing an intimate image without consent’ and ‘threatening to distribute an intimate image without consent’. The offences are located in sections 40, 41A, 41B, 41C, 41DA, 41DB Part I Division 4A of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic).

There are offences for distributing or threatening to distribute an intimate image without consent. The offences are located in sections 221BA – 221BF Chapter XXVA – Intimate images and sections 338, 338B and 338C Chapter XXXIIIA – Threats of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA).

The Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA) allows a court to impose a Family Violence Restraining Order to restrain the person responsible (usually called a respondent) from ‘stalking or cyber-stalking the person seeking to be protected’ and/or distributing, or threatening to distribute, an intimate image of the person seeking to be protected.

If someone shares or threatens to share an intimate image or video of you, eSafety can help have the content removed or stop the threats. 

 

If you’re being blackmailed, don’t pay or give the blackmailer more money or intimate content. Stop all contact with them.

 

Image-based abuse is not your fault and you’re not alone. You can get help by reporting image-based abuse, including ‘revenge porn’ and ‘sextortion’.

Last updated: 07/02/2024