The Office of the eSafety Commissioner (OESC) in Australia is piloting an online portal to provide access to tangible support and advice for Australians who have had intimate images or videos shared without their consent. This is commonly referred to as image-based abuse (IBA) or revenge porn. While most image-based abuse is about the sharing of images without consent, it can also include the threat of an image being shared. In many cases IBA is not about ‘revenge’, nor is it restricted to ‘porn’. IBA can occur for a range of motives and can include many kinds of images and video.
New research released by the eSafety Office reveals a significant number of Australians have experienced image-based abuse with statistics as high as 1 in 5 for women aged 18-45, and 1 in 4 for Indigenous Australians.
The research shows victims’ intimate images were most commonly shared without consent on popular social media sites. Facebook/Messenger accounted for 53%, followed by Snapchat at 11% and then Instagram at 4%. Text messaging and MMS were other common channels for distribution.
The research revealed that image-based abuse had severe impacts on victims’ mental health and physical wellbeing, but only one in four took action to resolve the issue, with 22 per cent indicating they didn’t know what to do.
Now, Australians will be able to report intimate images or videos that have been shared without their consent directly through the portal. The OESC will work with social media providers, websites and search engines to help facilitate the removal of the image-based abuse.
During the pilot phase, the OESC plans to work closely with victims of image-based abuse and stakeholders, to help ascertain the volume and complexity of reports. This will inform the final features of our portal which will formally launch in early 2018.
eSafety Commissioner, Ms. Julie Inman Grant, said,“This is a world-first government-led initiative, empowering Australians who experience this insidious form of abuse with practical information and a range of options to help resolve their situation and relieve their distress.”
“Our portal now gives victims a place to seek assistance. Understanding that Australians reporting to us are likely to be in distress, the portal provides clear and concise information about the steps victims can take to reduce the impact of the abuse, in an easy and intuitive way,” added M.s Inman Grant.
The eSafety Office has also developed a range of other initiatives to keep Australians safe online including a portal to provide parents and carers with advice on online safety issues and a dedicated women’s online safety website.