Talking with friends and family

If you have experienced image-based abuse it can be hard to talk about what happened. But support from friends and family can make all the difference.

Friends and family have a very important role to play in helping victims of image-based abuse. Research shows that victims often turn to friends and family first, and that reassurance and support go a long way to helping victims handle the situation. Friends and family who offer unconditional support, focus on the victim’s experience, and do not blame the victim, are the most helpful. A guide for friends and family is available here .

Who should you tell?

It’s important to think through who to tell about image-based abuse, especially if you’re feeling fragile. Seek out people who will care for, support and help you. Choosing people who have been understanding and supportive in the past is a good indicator of positive support now and in the future.

If, like lots of Australians, you don’t have anyone close you can talk to, there are professional counselling services that can provide immediate, non-judgemental support and advice.

Go to counselling services

How do you explain what happened?

There are many ways to explain to others what you’ve experienced. If you find this difficult, you could try:

  • Asking them to come over to talk about something important. Start with how you are feeling, and then talk about what happened that caused the feelings.
  • Writing a letter or email to them about what happened and how you’re feeling, and what you need them to do for you.
  • Starting by talking about a well-known case, like Jennifer Lawrence’s photos being hacked into and posted online, and then add that something like this has happened to you.
  • Sharing the personal stories of other people who have experienced image-based abuse with them. Your stories gives real-life stories of image-based abuse—exploring different peoples’ experiences of IBA, how they have talked with friends and family and how they have taken action.
Go to your stories

How might they react?

People will respond in different ways to being told about your experience of image-based abuse. Some people might be shocked, or outraged on your behalf. Some people might react with immediate sympathy, others may be less sympathetic. Even though it is not your fault that intimate images or video of you have been shared without your consent, some friends or family may ask you why you took or shared the image or video in the first place.

If this happens, ask your friend or family member to focus on your experience, to support you and help you to take action. You might need their help to contact police, report images to the websites or social media services on which they were posted, or seek legal assistance. Let them know that you need their unconditional support and direct them to support and resources for friends and family.

If your relationship with your family is strained and you don’t think you friends will understand, you may want to contact a professional counselling service for support.

Go to counselling services