Image-based abuse and blackmail scams are on the rise, so it's important to be aware of the risks online and what to do if something happens.

What is image-based abuse or revenge porn?

Image-based abuse (IBA) happens when an intimate image or video is shared without the consent of the person pictured. This can also include images or videos that have been digitally altered.

An intimate image is one that shows a person's genital area, anal area or breasts (whether bare or covered by underwear), a private activity such as undressing, using the bathroom, showering or engaging in sexual activity and a person without attire of religious or cultural significance if they would normally wear such attire in public.

Image-based abuse can be reported to eSafety. They can help get the content removed and may help with taking further action.

Sexual extortion

Sexual extortion ('sextortion') is a form of blackmail where an individual threatens to share intimate images of you online unless you give in to their demands. These demands can often include money transfers, or even more explicit images or sexual favours. These blackmailers can be individuals or part of an organised crime group, commonly not based in Australia. They often target individuals through dating apps, social media, webcams or adult pornography sites.

What are the potential warning signs?

  • If an individual’s online profile is not consistent with what you see or hear when you chat with them.

  • If the individual expresses strong emotions for you straight away and is moving too fast, and tempts you to move to a private channel or separate chat suggesting to be nude or sexual in the video call.

  • Watch out to see if they are making any excuses, they may say their web camera doesn't work and instead send a nude photo of what they claim is themselves.

  • Individuals may ask you for money fairly quickly for an emergency or to cover rent or to travel to Australia/or your location.

What to do and how to prevent it?

Image-based abuse and/or sexual extortion is unacceptable and against the law and is not your fault. It doesn’t matter whether you gave permission or not to share an image of yourself with another person. If that person has shared (or threatened to share) that image with others without your permission, they are to blame. They have betrayed your trust and broken the law.

  • Never send money or any more explicit photos of yourself. Often giving in to blackmailers' demands makes things worse.

  • Collect evidence by taking screenshots of chats, and records of conversations. For information on how to collect evidence see eSafety.

  • Contact relevant social media platforms to remove any images that the individual may have posted.

  • Stop all communication with the blackmailer and block any accounts

  • Secure your accounts by changing passwords and reviewing your privacy and security settings.

  • Most importantly, try not to panic and reach out to support services such as Sonder who can provide trusted advice on the next steps you can take.

  • If you have already paid the blackmailer don't stress there are options, you may be able to cancel the money transfer if you act quickly. If you transferred money from your bank account, contact your bank to see if they can help.

Remember, it's not your fault. Anyone can experience sexual extortion, you are not alone and you have not done anything wrong.

How to report sexual extortion

If you are in Australia:

  • Report to eSafety

  • If you are concerned about your physical safety call Triple Zero (000) or contact local police.

If you are not in Australia:

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app to connect to our team of qualified, caring health professionals.

Information sourced from: eSafety

Image credit: Kari Shea on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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