Technology-facilitated abuse uses technology to threaten, intimidate, harass or humiliate someone – with the intent to hurt them socially, psychologically or even physically. Also known as cyber-abuse, it includes a range of behaviours such as:
sending abusive or obscene text messages or emails
making continuous threatening phone calls
stalking a person online and hacking into their accounts, such as social media, banking or email accounts (cyberstalking)
spying on and monitoring victims through the use of tracking systems
personal attacks through social media sites
posting someone’s personal information online along with offensive and/or sexual comments
sharing intimate images of someone without their consent (image-based abuse)
using technology to control or manipulate home appliances, locks and other connected devices
Technology-facilitated abuse has become a key part of domestic and family violence.
Image-based abuse occurs when intimate, nude or sexual images (including images that have been digitally altered) are distributed via mobile phones or the internet without the consent of those pictured. It can also include the threat to share such images. While it is commonly referred to as ‘revenge porn’ (typically involving a former sexual partner), many cases of image-based abuse are not about revenge or porn; it is actually a betrayal of trust and shows malicious intent to obtain power and control over someone else. There are specific laws that apply to image-based abuse.
Sextortion is a type of image-based abuse. It is a form of blackmail where someone threatens to share intimate images of another person online unless they give in to the demands. These demands are typically for money, additional intimate images or sexual favours. Perpetrators often target people through dating apps, social media, webcams or adult pornography sites. While sextortion can be used by individuals, organised crime is often behind it when the perpetrator demands money. Commonly the perpetrator is not based in Australia.
Cyberstalking is a form of online abuse where someone uses technology to stalk or repeatedly harass another person. A partner or ex-partner may use cyberstalking as a form of power and control. Cyberstalking is often accompanied by offline stalking. It can become dangerous and can develop into physical abuse. Stalking is a crime in all states and territories in Australia.
Sexting involves the sharing of intimate images or text messages. While this may be consensual, it can have serious social consequences including the increased risk of image-based abuse. The sharing of nude/sexual images of people under the age of 18 is a crime (even if it is a nude selfie).It can also be a crime when it involves harassing people of any age.
The e-Safety Commissioner can provide general advice and guidance, including information about when to seek legal advice and where to go for legal assistance. The eSafety cyber abuse response guide may help in identifying appropriate actions, including reporting the abuse to various services and platforms.