Preventing image-based abuse in Australia: The role of bystanders

Asher Flynn, Elena Cama, Adrian J Scott

Research output: Book/ReportOther ReportOtherpeer-review


This report examines image-based abuse and bystander intervention in Australia. Image-based abuse involves three main behaviours—non-consensually taking/creating nude or sexual images, non-consensually sharing/distributing nude or sexual images, and threatening to share/distribute nude or sexual images. In this report, we present data from an online survey of 245 Australian residents (aged 18–71 years), 35 face-to-face focus groups with 219 participants and a review of available resources on bystander intervention and image-based abuse. Ultimately, we found that many people do not intervene when witnessing image-based abuse. While 64.1 percent of respondents had witnessed image-based abuse, only 45.6 percent reported that they said or did something. We also discuss a range of barriers to and facilitators of intervention, such as the social and physical safety risks of intervention, potential impacts on interpersonal relationships, gender, the potential for escalation, and whether participants perceived they would receive support from others. The report also shows that participants have limited knowledge of existing image-based abuse resources and supports. We argue that improved education and awareness of image-based abuse is needed to actively discourage it and highlight its harms and consequences, alongside education on how bystanders can safely and effectively intervene and/or support victims when witnessing image-based abuse.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCanberra ACT Australia
PublisherAustralian Institute of Criminology
Commissioning bodyCriminology Research Advisory Council
ISBN (Electronic)9781922478689
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • image-based abuse
  • bystander
  • gendered violence
  • cybercrime

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