What to do if someone shares your nudes

It’s not okay for someone to share (or threaten to share) your ‘intimate’ pics without your permission. If they do, they’ve seriously broken your trust. Learn about what you can do to get the issue sorted, and how to feel better in the meantime.

Infographic with the title What To Do If Someone Shares Your Nudes. There are arrows with text written on them moving between illustrations from left to right down the page. From left to right the text reads: don't blame yourself, screenshot the evidence, get your leaked nudes off the internet, report it to the eSafety Commissioner, tell a trusted adult about the incident, decide if you want to talk to the police, take care of yourself, seek support from others.

Don’t blame yourself 

Your first thought might be to blame yourself for sending the nudes, but that’s not fair. Just because you’ve sent someone a nude, it doesn’t mean you’ve consented to them sharing it. You trusted them to respect your privacy; they broke that trust and put you in a really hard situation. It’s definitely not your fault, and you shouldn’t have to feel ashamed, alone or scared.

In fact, sharing (or threatening to share) someone’s intimate photos or videos without their consent is a form of abuse called ‘image-based abuse’. The numbers of young Aussies experiencing it is on the rise, though it’s unlawful in most states and territories. 

Check out Lawstuff and the Image-Based Abuse Project to find out more about the laws in your area. If you’re unsure if your pics meet the definitions of a nude or ‘intimate image’ from a legal standpoint, check out the details on the eSafety website.

Why do people leak nudes?

There are various reasons why someone might have leaked your nudes, but regardless of their intentions, there’s no excuse for image-based abuse. Someone might leak nudes because they are: 

  • trying to hurt and harm someone who has ended a relationship with them

  • using it as a threat to make the other person stay with them

  • attempting to blackmail the person shown in the image

  • intending to embarrass or upset the person

  • trying to get the person in trouble or make them do something against their will

  • boasting or showing off

  • causing problems for someone who was trusted with the image or video, like a romantic partner.

Screenshot the threats to expose your nudes

Screenshots give you evidence of the abuse and are useful if you need to take the issue further by reporting it or taking legal action. If someone is threatening to share your nude photos or videos, screenshot those messages. If you feel safe and confident to say something, you can tell the person that you no longer consent to them having or sharing your nudes. 

This might feel a bit confronting or scary, so maybe ask someone you trust to help you draft the message or support you in another way. If your nudes have already been shared, you could ask people who have received them to send you screenshots of their own texts. It’s also a good idea to screenshot all these messages, as proof of what you’ve said. 

If someone is threatening to share your nudes unless you do something for them, this is a form of blackmail called ‘sextortion’ and it’s a crime. If this is happening to you, the best thing to do is seek help from a loved one and follow the steps outlined by eSafety

Get your leaked nudes offline

Having your stolen nudes posted online feels really awful, but there is hope to get them taken down. If they’ve been posted on social media or a popular website, you can untag yourself and report both the post and the person who posted it. The eSafety website has all the details on how to do this.

You can also use the free services Take It Down (if you're under 18) and StopNCII.org (if you’re over 18), which aim to scrub your nudes from the internet.

Report to the eSafety Commissioner that someone has exposed your nudes

Anyone who lives in Australia can make a report to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. They’re total pros and can help you to get the content removed. They are especially helpful if:

  • you don’t feel confident reporting it yourself

  • the host site looks a bit dodgy

  • your reporting process didn’t work and your nudes are still up

  • you just want to be sure the content gets deleted.

Find out more about this process on the eSafety website. Then, when you’re ready, you can start a report.

Tell a trusted adult about the incident

If you’re under 18, it’s a good idea to tell an adult you trust about what’s happening. This could be a parent, auntie or uncle, older sibling, teacher or a school counsellor. While this might be more than a little awkward, it can be a big help. It’s also possible that they’ll find out about it some other way, so it’s better if the news comes from you. If you don’t feel comfortable telling anyone you know, give Kids Helpline a call on 1800 55 1800.

Decide if you want to talk to the police

You may choose to go to the police to talk about what has happened and make a report. This is entirely your choice, but if you’re under 18 it’s a good idea to talk to a parent or trusted adult before you do this, so they can support you when contacting the police and making a report. It can also help to get legal advice beforehand, especially if you’re dealing with nudes of anyone under 18. Before going to the police, have a read of the advice on the eSafety website.

Take care of yourself

Having your nudes leaked absolutely sucks, and it’s normal to feel really stressed or upset. Though it might feel hard to do, try your best to look after yourself during this time. Consider chatting to a professional about how you're going, and practise lots of self-care

Because it’s happening online, it might feel like there’s no escape from it. To give yourself a break, you can try to limit the amount of time you spend online. While it’s not fair that you should have to stay off the web because of someone else’s actions, it might help you to feel safer and happier. This list of ways to chill out on the cheap might provide you with some helpful distractions.

This is another great reason to report the abuse to the eSafety Commissioner. Once you’ve made a report, they’ll give you updates on how the removal is going. That way, you don’t have to constantly check if the content is still up.

Seek support from others 

Having your consent broken can have lasting impacts on your wellbeing, and it’s totally understandable if this situation has left you feeling upset, angry or overwhelmed. Lean on your friends and family for emotional support and consider seeking professional help

You may also find yourself fearful of trusting others again, or nervous about opening up to future partners. Great relationships are built on mutual respect and trust, so it’s really important to get some help with overcoming these fears so that they don’t impact your ability to form meaningful relationships. Working this through with a professional will help you to process your emotions, overcome your fears and heal from this experience.