If you’re unsafe or in danger, you could contact the Police or Ambulance services in your country — but only if it’s safe to do so, and if you feel comfortable talking to the police.
Consider contacting a support service. The UK Revenge Porn Helpline has a list of support services in 48 different countries here.
It might also be a good idea to reach out for support from someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, co-worker or counsellor, to help you through this.
We also have Umibot, our chatbot, which you can speak to 24/7 (at any time of the day, 7 days a week). Umi can give you information, support and general advice about image-based abuse. Please note that we designed Umibot to help Australian users, but some information, support and general guidance might be useful even if you live in another country.
It’s important to record the type of content that was posted, when, where and by whom. This might include photos, videos, posts or comments. The evidence will be important if you want to seek advice from a lawyer, request content removal from a digital platform, or report the taking or sharing of intimate images to police or an online safety agency in your country. If your case ends up in court, you’ll need to have evidence of the image-based abuse.
When capturing or recording evidence, consider keeping a single document log (e.g., a Word document) so that you don’t have to work across multiple files during a stressful time. It’s important to store this evidence (i.e., the document log) in a password-protected folder, and to have backups of the log in a separate password-protected folder.
If you would like to know more about collecting evidence, including how to take screenshots, please read the eSafety Commissioner’s guide on collecting evidence here.
Please make sure that you don’t download, store or save any images of a person under the age of 18 given that there are laws against child pornography, or child abuse material, in most countries. This includes images of yourself and others.
3. Find out what the policies are on digital platforms
Most popular websites and search engines have policies, terms of service or community standards that don’t allow the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. It’s important to know that not all forms of intimate image sharing will violate website policies. Images will generally need to show nudity or near nudity, or be sexual. Some websites make it clear that this includes fake pornographic images (including “deepfakes”). Others do not allow threats to share intimate images.
Not all websites refer to the content as “image-based abuse”, “non-consensual pornography” or “non-consensual intimate images”. This means you might instead need to select another category on the online form, such as “nudity”, “inappropriate content”, “other” or “illegal content”.
You should check the policies on the website or app to find what kind of content violates their policies.
4. Report to digital platforms
Many websites and apps have in-built reporting tools that enable you to flag or report illegal content (including videos, photos and comments). They handle policy violations and bad actors in different ways. A range of factors can influence what happens next, including whether the person who posted the image has previously violated content policies, the type of content and your age. Content violations can result in a platform suspending or deactivating a user’s account, among other actions or inaction.
If you’ve had your intimate images shared online without your consent, most platforms enable you to fill out an online reporting form to request that this content be removed and/or blocked. You don’t have to have an account with the website or app to request the content be taken down. Click here to find out more about flagging inappropriate or illegal content.
If the website you’re wanting content taken down from doesn’t have an in-built reporting tool, you can send an email to the website to request that your images be taken down (you will usually be able to find their email through a “Contact Us” button on the page or “Support” or at the footer of the page). The UK Revenge Porn Helpline suggests writing something like this:
“Hi, my intimate images have been shared on your site without my consent. This is against the law in [insert country] and I am requesting the images/videos to be removed along with any associated thumbnails. I would appreciate prompt removal of the content and notification when this has been done. Thank you”‘.
If someone has access to your social media or email account, is pretending to be you (i.e., “impersonating” you) and is sharing images of you, there are things you can do. First, check to see if you still have access to your account and try to change your password. If not, you can contact the platform to let them know someone has hacked your account. Many of the platforms have advice on what to do if your account has been hacked (e.g., Facebook’s advice here).
5. Request search results linking to your content are removed
Search engines, such as Google, Bing/Microsoft or Yahoo!, can also remove links to photos or videos in their search results. When a search engine company removes links to the content, they are unable to remove the content from the website or app where it is originally hosted.
6. Contact an online safety agency (if you have one in your country)
In some countries, there are online safety agencies that can give you support and advice, and even work with technology companies to get content removed or taken down. See the UK Revenge Porn Hotline’s list of support services here.
7. Contact the person who has shared your images – but only if it’s safe to do so
If you know the person who has shared your images without your consent, you can contact them and request that they delete the images from their phones or other personal devices. You can request that they ask anyone else that they have shared the images with to do the same, and for them to remove the content from any online websites immediately.
If someone tells you about your images being shared without your consent, or you stumble across your images yourself when you’re browsing online, you can contact the person who you suspect has shared your images and request that they remove and delete them immediately (but again, only if it’s safe to do so).
8. Find your images online
If you suspect that someone may have shared your images online, or you’re worried that they might do so in the future, there are a couple of options you might like to consider.
To help find any images of you online, you can do a reverse Google Images search. To do this, you need to:
- click on Google Images;
- click the camera icon in the search bar to “search by image”;
- either upload the image of yourself or paste the URL where a current image of you online is located; and
- select “Search by image”.
Unfortunately, this is not a perfect solution. While a reverse Google Images search might help you to find the same image of you, it’s not very effective for finding other similar images of you online.
If you’re not sure where your images are hosted, you can try typing your name into a search engine to see if anything comes up. If you’re using Gmail, you can also set up a Google Alert for your name, whereby you will be altered if anything is posted online with your name.
Please keep in mind that a reverse search can be an upsetting. You might like to talk this through with a friend, counsellor or support person.
In most countries around the world, it is a serious crime to possess intimate images of a person under the age of 18. You might want to consider seeking help from a national child helpline in your country or calling the police.
Depending on where you live, it may be a crime to distribute or share intimate images of another person without their consent. If it is, you can report to the police in your country (if it’s safe to do so, and if you feel comfortable talking to the police). You can check here to see if there is information about laws in your country or, alternatively, you can search online for the laws that apply to where you live.
11. Enhance your online safety
The Australian eSafety Commissioner has step-by-step video guides on a range of topics, including how to change your privacy settings on social media, and how to choose a good password. Check them out here.
For women experiencing family or domestic violence, the following resources might be helpful:
– WESNET’s comprehensive safety and privacy toolkit for women;
– The Australian eSafety Commissioner’s online safety checklist; and
– 1800 RESPECT’s Device Safety page.
Self-care is about looking after yourself to reduce stress and enhance your physical and mental wellbeing. It can involve sleeping and eating well, physical exercise, meditation, yoga, massage, reading, cooking, writing, dancing, drawing, spending time with loved ones and pets, or being outside in nature.