Image based sexual offences

Understand image based sexual offending, like sexting, and how to make a report to police.

Image-based sexual offending involves compromising, sexual, or intimate images or videos.

It is an offence if someone produces, distributes, or threatens to produce or distribute intimate images or videos of another person without their consent.

The definition of an intimate image

A compromising, sexual, or intimate image or video includes depictions of:

  • a person engaged in a sexual activity
  • a person in a manner or context that is sexual
  • the genital or anal region, or breasts of a person.

This includes manipulated or altered digital images or videos created to look like someone. 

Sharing an intimate or explicit picture or video is also known as sexting(opens in a new window).

Producing intimate images

Producing, in relation to an image, includes:

  • filming, recording, taking or otherwise capturing the image
  • digitally creating the image.

Distributing intimate images

Distributing, in relation to an image, includes:

  • publishing the image
  • exhibiting, communicating, sending, supplying or transmitting the image to any other person
  • making the image available for access by any other person.

Image-based sexual offences and the law

Image based sexual offences are criminal offences and can carry serious penalties.

If the intimate images show a person under the age of 18 and the person committing the offence is an adult, this can result in serious criminal charges.

In some cases, young people under 18 years of age engage in consensual sexting. There have been changes to the law in Victoria to recognise the difference between young people consensually 'sexting' and child sex offenders.

Learn more on about non-consensual sexting(opens in a new window).

Child abuse material and the law

It is a criminal offence in Victoria to possess, access, produce, or distribute child abuse material.

An intimate image that depicts a person under the age of 18 years old also meets the definition of child abuse material.

Learn more about child abuse material and the law(opens in a new window).

Sextortion (sexual extortion) scams

Sextortion is a crime involving blackmail and compromising, sexual, or intimate images or videos. 

It often targets children and young people. If this happens to someone under the age of 18, it is online child sexual abuse.

To find out more about sextortion and how to prevent or report it, visit our Sextortion scams page.