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6 September 2022

From unwanted nudes to doxing: how to stay safe online (and respect others)

Have you ever received an unwanted nude pic? Or perhaps you’ve shared one with your mates as a bit of a joke? While sexting (also known as ‘image-based abuse’) is becoming more common, you may not know that sharing intimate images without consent is a crime.

Twice as many women as men have had their nude/sexual images shared without consent. While unwanted nudes are often associated with the idea of ‘revenge porn’, the reasons given for sharing are often more to do with having a laugh or joke or because the picture is ‘hot’.

Whatever the motivation, the consequences of non-consensual sexting are serious – if you’re the subject, they can seriously affect your mental health; if you’re responsible for sending or sharing, you could face jail time or other serious punishment.

Unwanted nudes are a type of cyber abuse

Adult cyber abuse is online communication to or about someone that is menacing, harassing or offensive, and intended to cause serious harm to their physical or mental health. It can occur in online classrooms, chat and messaging services, social media, text messages, emails, message boards and online forums.

Adult cyber abuse affects those aged 18 and over. Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet to be mean to a child or young person under the age of 18 so they feel bad or upset.

Unwanted nudes are just one kind of adult cyber abuse that you may encounter, so it’s important to understand what kind of dangers are lurking online, how to protect yourself and what behaviour is unacceptable and/or illegal.


Cyberstalking is the use of technology to stalk or repeatedly harass another person. It’s often accompanied by offline stalking. It may include false accusations, abusive comments, attempts to smear your reputation, threats of physical or sexual violence, repeated unwanted sexual requests, as well as monitoring, identity theft and the gathering of information that may be used to threaten, embarrass or harass.


Trolling is when someone is deliberatively provocative or inflammatory online and waits for people to take the bait. Examples include people making anti-social comments on online posts that satirise others with the aim of causing offence or provoking a reaction, or posting an image or comment with the aim of frustrating/upsetting others. Disturbingly, one in three Australians has been trolled online.

Fake accounts and impersonation

Online abusers may set up fake social media accounts pretending to be someone they’re not in order to bully, harass or otherwise abuse people. They’re also used to monitor and scam people into handing over money, gifts or intimate images or videos. Often these scams are run by organised crime syndicates.

Online hate

Online hate includes targeted and persistent behaviour aimed at ridiculing, insulting, damaging or humiliating a person — this might target someone’s physical appearance, religion, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation and/or political beliefs.

Doxing and swatting

Doxing occurs when someone’s personal details are shared or publicised online. This may result in offensive comments and unwanted calls or visits from strangers.

Swatting occurs when an abuser makes a hoax call to emergency services to get a large number of police or emergency service responders to another person’s address. This can be triggered by a false report of a bomb threat, hostage situation or someone at the address experiencing a mental health emergency, such as being suicidal.

What to do if you experience adult cyber abuse

We want everyone to feel safe at Deakin. If you’ve witnessed or experienced any offensive, discriminatory, harassing, bullying or other inappropriate behaviours, we can support you. Please contact:

Remember that all Deakin students are expected to act in the best interests of the University, and follow our values, the Student Code of Conduct and University rules.

You can also:

While standing up to online abuse is important, your safety should always be the priority. If you’re in immediate danger, contact police on Triple Zero (000). 24/7 support is also available from 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) and Lifeline (13 11 14).

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