Nobody thinks this will ever happen to them or their friends, but in reality – in today’s crazy, digital world – it’s more common than you think! What you need to know is that sharing or threatening to share sexual images or nudes of someone else WITHOUT their permission is image based bullying (also referred to as image based abuse).
Everything you need to know to stay safe from
Image based bullying. So Not OK.
Around 11% of Australian
adults have experienced
image based bullying.
This was 15% for girls
aged 15 -17 years.
We want to encourage
everyone to take a stand.
So you’ve probably heard the term ‘sexting’ before – maybe from your teachers, your parents (awkward), or from an article or two online. The people who do research (academics), and give us all the stats we are using, refer to the sharing of sexual images as ‘Sexting’ and the images as ‘Sexts’, but we’re going to call these pics ‘Nudes’.
You, or people you know, may have sent and received a few nudes before and not thought much about it because nothing has gone wrong. Sometimes, it’s not as simple as taking a nude and sending it to someone. Sending a nude actually has four stages and each stage is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ journey, where the choices you make can affect what happens in the next stage.
Relationships can be so hard, right? But they also make us feel
Sharing nudes usually happens between two people in a relationship, people who want to be in a relationship or between friends. Let’s break it down for you in four stages of sending nudes, remembering there are choices that need to be made between each step. The choices made by the two people involved tell us if a relationship is respectful or not.
Send nudes pls???
- In a respectful relationship you can say no if you don’t feel comfortable and the other person will be ok with it.
- In a respectful relationship the person would not pressure you or threaten you if you say no.
Snap a sexy pic
- If you decide to take a nude, you are able to talk to the person about your ‘rules’ to make sure it stays private.
- Just in case it does get shared, don’t show your face or anything that lets people know it’s you, like birth marks, tatts, piercings or things that are in the background like a poster on your wall.
Nude is shared
with a trusted person
- In a respectful relationship the person will not say anything mean or nasty about the nude. Instead, they will make you feel safe and valued.
- In a respectful relationship the nude will stay between the two of you and the person you sent it to respects your privacy ‘rules’.
- In a respectful relationship nudes don’t need to be saved or stored.
Trust is broken, nude is
shared without your
- If anyone tries to show you a nude of someone else, tell them that it’s so not ok.
- If someone forwards you a nude, don’t feel like you have to look at it or share it with others.
- If a nude of someone else has been shared with you, let the person in the nude know that they are not in the wrong, that they have power and that they can take action.
Here's the thing...
- Not all four stages happen every time. For example, someone takes a nude without being asked and sends it to their partner, who keeps it to themselves. In this case, stages 1 and 4 won’t happen.
- If a nude is taken, sent on purpose and kept private, most of the time it’s ok and no one gets hurt.
- Stages 2 and 3 represent the most common scenario, and luckily no one gets hurt.
Let’s use stages 3 and 4 as an example:
Someone receives a nude from their partner. Now they have a choice. The receiver can either keep it to themselves or they can move into stage 4 by sharing it with someone else without permission. Stage 4 is image based bullying, which is SO NOT OK.
1 The Line, www.theline.org.au/recognising-respectful-relationships, 2015
Do you get it?
Consent is about getting the ‘ok’ from both people involved each step of the way. It’s a good idea to suss someone out before sending or asking for a nude. If you get a feeling that they are not super into it, don’t send anything or nag them to send one. Your idea of flirting or a bit of fun could differ from theirs, and might completely freak the other person out, or make them feel awkward.
If both of you seem keen it’s important to keep sussing to make sure both of you are completely clear with what is ok and what is so not ok. Like being straight up about keeping the nudes private, sticking to waist ups only, deleting the nudes once they’ve been seen and any other rules that make both people feel comfortable. It’s also a good idea to continue checking in with each other and, of course, sticking to the rules that you both agreed to is a must!
What's Not Ok?
The Office of the eSafety2 Commissioner (basically the protector of all things online in Australia) tells us that image based abuse (that's what they call image based bullying) is when intimate or sexual photos or videos are shared online without consent, either to humiliate or shame someone, or for the ‘entertainment’ of others.
Most people think that sharing other people’s nudes is a serious breach of trust and privacy, but it still happens. The research shows the most common reason people say they shared a nude someone trusted them with was because they wanted to get revenge after a relationship had broken up.
(Albury, K., Crawford, K., Byron, P., Mathews B. (2013)).
So... Who's to blame?
Image based bullying happens when a nude is shared without the ok of the person in the nude. This is a serious breach of trust and so not ok! Sharing a nude of yourself does not give the other person the ok to share it with anyone else.
You may have noticed so far we haven’t used the word victim to describe someone who’s experienced image based bullying. Being labelled a victim can suggest weakness or a lack of power.
One thing to remember: The people who have been affected by image based bullying are #INNOCENT. It is not their fault.
This fear can sometimes lead to people who experience image based bullying to also experience sextortion. Sextortion is basically when someone has a nude of someone else and they threaten to share it either online or with the person in the nude's friends or family, if they don’t do something in return. It is a form of blackmail and the person who is threatening to share the nude might ask for more nudes, money or anything else they want. The person who is in the nude can be so worried about their family and friends seeing it that they feel like they have no choice but to do what the person threatening to share the nude asks. Letting people you care about know that image based bullying is so not ok may help them avoid experiencing sextortion.
Image based bullying has serious mental and physical impacts on the people whose images are shared:
People who experience image based bullying need support, not shame or blame. Only half of them say they felt comfortable asking for help.
It sucks, but nudes of girls are seen as more valuable than nudes of boys (crazy, we know).
There is a perception that if boys have nudes of girls they look like ‘The Man’, but girls can get shamed and labelled. What’s worse, girls can be just as judgemental, and often even more judgemental of other girls. Put your hand up if you’ve been named and shamed by a fellow female before.