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Sexting and sending nudes

While sharing sexually explicit or nude images, texts and videos online and via text and chat apps (‘sexting’) can be part of a healthy intimate relationship between consensual adults, it does come with some risks.

What are the risks?

Sharing intimate messages and images is an action built on trust, but you are at risk when this trust is broken. Even with consensual sexting between adults, problems arise when trust is broken and the image is shared or used to harm you, or when it is accidentally released. If an intimate image of you is shared without your consent — this is image-based abuse.

Things to consider

  • Digital photos and videos can be digitally altered but they never deteriorate.
  • Anyone can capture and save a screen image. 
  • Friends and partners or ex-partners can share your images and videos beyond your level of trust. They may forward the images to their friends and post them online.
  • Your content could be shared on the internet — many naked or sexy images and videos are posted to pornography sites.
  • Accidents can happen — use separate and safe digital storage for any sexting content because your family, children, community or work colleagues could accidentally gain access to your images.
  • A former partner may use the content to blackmail or shame you. This is a form of abuse — read more about image-based abuse

Safer sexting tips

For peace of mind consider the following questions before sexting:

  • What could happen to the image or video? Once you press send you no longer have control. Even using an app that automatically deletes images after a set time-limit won’t prevent screen shots or photos of the image being taken and shared.
  • Who could see the image or accidentally gain access to it?
  • How much do you trust the other person? Are they likely to take a screen shot or show others?
  • Will you be comfortable talking face-to-face to the person you send it to, after they have seen the sext?

Remember, what goes online, stays online.

What to do if your intimate image or message has been shared

If your image or video is shared with others without your consent, this is image-based abuse.

Image-based abuse occurs when intimate, nude or sexual images are distributed without the consent of those pictured. This includes real, digitally altered and drawn pictures and videos.

While most image-based abuse is about the sharing of images without consent, it can also include the threat of an image being shared — this is known as sextortion and is a form of blackmail.

How to take action

Visit our resources on image-based abuse to learn how to take action, get legal help and connect with support.

You can also report image-based abuse to us, and we will do our best to get the image removed.

If you feel you are in immediate danger because of the way the images are being used, contact your local police or ring Triple Zero (000).

Remember, you haven’t done anything wrong — it is the person who shared an image without your consent who is doing the wrong thing. Find a counselling or support service that is right for you.

What to do if you receive unwanted sexts or images

If someone is sending you explicit images, text or video without your consent, you can block them or report them to the service or platform they are using. You can find reporting links and advice on online safety in the eSafety Guide.

Send a very clear message back to the person, telling them you would like them to stop. Don’t respond in any other way, but keep the evidence by taking screen shots, saving videos and photos, or even filming them, with another device. Learn more about collecting evidence.

If they continue, or if they are doing it to harass you, contact the police for advice.

If you feel you are in immediate danger because of the way the images are being used, contact your local police or ring Triple Zero (000).

Targeted advice on sexting and sending nudes for
Young people
It is not OK if someone is pressuring you to send nudes. But you can help to change the culture.
How to talk to your child and give them advice about sharing intimate images and messages.

Last updated: 07/11/2019