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Collecting evidence of adult cyber abuse

People who have experienced online abuse and harassment often want the abusive material removed immediately.

But it is important to preserve evidence first.

If you have experienced serious and harmful online abuse and harassment you may want to report it to police or take legal action. To do so, it is helpful to collect evidence before the content is removed. Evidence can help you show police and the courts exactly what happened.

Evidence can also be useful if you plan to report the abuse or threatening behaviour to the site or social media service it was posted on. Showing evidence of the cyber abuse can help to have the person who shared the abusive material blocked from that service. It may also help prevent this content from being shared again in the future.

For more information on making a complaint please visit our FAQ page.

Report

How do I collect evidence?

You can save evidence of any abusive material that has been posted online, including posts, images and videos, by taking screenshots or photos of the content. You should also save or record evidence of the webpage addresses (URLs) or social media services where the abusive material has been shared.

Always record the time and date you collected the evidence.

If possible, also record the times and dates the abusive material was shared, including any other information that you think may be important. This might include the username/s of the person or people who shared the material.

Other information it is useful to document

  • Duration ‑— how long has the abuse been occurring or going on?
  • Intensity — has the language the abusive person is using become more abusive, threatening or demanding over time?
  • Relationship — is the abusive person known to you? If so, what is your relationship with this person?
  • Impact — how has the abuse made you feel? Has it affected your ability to work or carry out other responsibilities?
  • Action taken — what actions have you already taken to try and stop the abuse? Have your reported previous abusive posts? Have you reported fake accounts? Have you blocked accounts the abusive person is using?

Taking a screenshot

Screenshots are a quick and effective way of preserving evidence. They may also have the added advantage of recording other details such as usernames and dates, but it is important to also take detailed records to accompany screenshots. See our ‘how to’ videos about taking screenshots.

What if the online abuse involves intimate images or video?

If an intimate image or video of you has been shared without your consent, this is known as image-based abuse or ‘revenge porn’. Learn more about what you can do and how to get support in cases of image-based abuse.

‘How to’ videos

Taking a screenshot on an Apple device

Taking a screenshot on a Mac

Taking a screenshot on a PC

Taking a screenshot on an android

What if the cyber abuse involves intimate images of people who are under 18?

Be aware that possessing, creating or sharing sexualised images of people under 18 may be unlawful. For more information about relevant laws in Australia, visit Youth Law Australia.

If you encounter child sexual abuse material online, please report it to eSafety via our online reporting form. Reports can be made anonymously.