If you’re unsafe or in danger, you can contact the Police or Ambulance on Triple Zero (000). If it’s not an emergency, you can call the Police Assistance Line (131 444) or contact your local police station.
You can report child abuse content to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) or the eSafety Commissioner. If you are experiencing family or domestic violence, or sexual violence, you can contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
Support might be available through other organisations, including specialist services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, migrants and refugees, young people, people with disabilities, people from LGBTIQ+ communities and sex workers. 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 Umi, our chatbot, who you can speak to 24/7 (at any time of the day, 7 days a week). Una can give you information, support and general advice about image-based abuse.
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 on a digital platform or report the taking or sharing of intimate images to police or the eSafety Commissioner. 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
Most websites, search engines, platforms or apps enable users to directly request that their intimate images be removed or taken down. This can involve filling out an online form or sending an email. You will typically be asked to provide details, such as your email address and the links to the images (and for search engine requests, the URL to the search page). It’s important that you read through each platform’s policy on non-consensual nude or sexual imagery to first check that the sharing of your content violates their community standards or terms of service (see above). It’s not fair, but keep in mind that whether any action is taken to remove your images will depend on the website or app and not all of them will do the right thing.
If the website you’re wanting content taken down from doesn’t have an in-built reporting tool or any policies around the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, you can directly report to the eSafety Commissioner and they will try and get the images removed from the website on your behalf. Alternatively, and only if it appears to be safe to do so, 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 Australia 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 you have made the request for the content to be taken down and it hasn’t been removed, you should report to the eSafety Commissioner to request that the content is taken down on your behalf (see below).
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 the eSafety Commissioner
The eSafety Commissioner is an independent statutory body that coordinates and leads the online safety efforts of the Australian government, industry and not-for-profit community. You can report directly through the eSafety Commissioner’s website if someone has shared your intimate images without your consent or if they’ve made threats to do so.
The eSafety Commissioner can work directly with social media, search engines and other digital platforms to request that the images are taken down.
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.
It’s a serious crime for someone to share or distribute intimate images of you if you’re under 18. If you’re unsure about what to do, you can contact Youth Law for free, confidential legal information and help. Please contact KidsHepline on 1800 55 1800 if you have experienced, or are experiencing, child sexual abuse.
In most Australian states and territories, it’s a crime to take or record intimate images of another person without their consent (see our Interactive Law Map). If you decide to report to the police, the eSafety Commissioner’s online form — “what to take to the police” — can help you gather the evidence and other information that you’ll need. Some victim support advocates also suggest printing the relevant legislation and bringing it with you. This is because in some states or territories, laws on image-based abuse are relatively new and some police officers might not know about those laws. It’s also a good idea to have a support person with you throughout the reporting process.
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.
– Beyond Blue provides guidance on wellbeing and self-care here.
– If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Islander and would like to know more about self-care for you and your community, WellMob is an online resource made by Indigenous Australians to provide information and resources on social and emotional wellbeing.
– Resources for young people are available from ReachOut here.