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Sentencing image-based sexual abuse offences in Victoria

Revenge porn Sexting Coercive control Image-based abuse Sentencing Victoria

The non-consensual creation and sharing of intimate and sexual images and recordings, and threats to create and share such images and recordings, are behaviours collectively known as image-based sexual abuse (IBSA). This report presents the first empirical analysis of how people are sentenced for those behaviours in Victoria.

To better understand the IBSA behaviours for which people are sentenced, this report examines research on the serious harms associated with IBSA. It also presents information on the rate of IBSA offences recorded by police, how many of those offences are ultimately sentenced (attrition), the demographics of offenders and victims, the relationships between them – especially whether the offending occurred in the context of family violence – and the types of offences typically co-sentenced alongside IBSA.

Key findings:

  • 54% of cases involving an image-based abuse offence were related to family violence, especially in cases involving actual and threatened distribution of intimate images (offences that came into effect in 2014)
  • the number of sentenced cases involving an image-based abuse offence increased from 25 in 2014–15 to 91 in 2018–19
  • the most common sentencing outcomes for image-based abuse offences were community correction orders (27%), imprisonment (22%) and fines (19%).

Key recommendations:

  • that sentences for these offences are low compared to the available maximum penalties and the severe harm that can be associated with serious instances of image-based abuse, especially in the context of coercive control;
  • that Victoria's image-based abuse offences are summary offences, unlike most jurisdictions, which limits police search powers; and
  • that most image-based abuse is not reported to police, suggesting a need for greater community awareness of these offences.


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