Image-Based Sexual Abuse 

The Council has completed its research into sentencing outcomes for image-based sexual abuse offences in Victoria.

For this project, the Council examined:

  • how many image-based sexual abuse offences are sentenced in Victoria
  • the sentences imposed on those offences
  • the demographic characteristics of offenders.

The Council also analysed the offences most commonly co-sentenced with image-based sexual abuse and the proportion of cases flagged as occurring in the context of family violence.

About Image-Based Sexual Abuse

Image-based sexual abuse involves creating, distributing and threatening to distribute nude or sexual images of others. It has become increasingly prevalent in the age of smartphones and other technological advancements.

Different subsets of this offending include upskirting, downblousing, creepshots, revenge porn and sextortion. 

A recent study found that nearly one in four Australians aged 16 to 49 have been a victim of image-based sexual abuse.  Lesbian, gay and bisexual people, younger people, people with a disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are especially vulnerable.

Rate of image-based sexual abuse victimisation among Australians, by key demographics

This diagram shows the different percentages for groups of Australians who have experienced image-based sexual abuse: by gender, 24% of males and 22% of females; by sexuality, 21% of heterosexuals and 36% of LGBs; by age, 31% aged 16 to 19, 27% aged 20 to 29, 22% aged 30 to 39 and 18% aged 40 to 49; by Indigenous status, 50% for Indigenous people and 22% for non-Indigenous people; and by Disability, 56% for people with a disability and 18% for people without a disability. Overall, 23% of people had experienced image-based sexual abuse.

Data source: Nicola Henry, Asher Flynn and Anastasia Powell, Responding to ‘Revenge Pornography’: Prevalence, Nature and Impacts, Report to the Criminology Research Advisory Council (Australian Institute of Criminology, 2019) 37.

In Victoria, image-based sexual abuse is prohibited by sections 40–41DB of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic), which variously came into force in 2007 and 2014. Most other Australian jurisdictions have introduced specific offences in recent years.