Skip navigation and jump to content
Welcome to Ireland's Youth Information Website
Follow us
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Snapchat

Accessibility Options

High Contrast Text Size

What to do if your nudes are shared online

What to do if intimate images or video of you is at risk of being leaked


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


Share this article -

Image based sexual abuse is when someone shares, or threatens to share, a nude or sexual image or video of someone without their consent. This is sometimes also called 'revenge porn' but this term can be misleading. Many perpetrators of image based sexual abuse are not motivated by revenge or by any personal feelings towards the person at all.

Image based sexual abuse, or the the threat of it, can be a very upsetting experience. Having your privacy violated in this way might trigger feelings of embarrassment, guilt, or shame. Remember that what has happened is not your fault and you are not alone. 

If you have been the victim of image based sexual abuse where intimate images of you have been shared online, or you have been threatened they will be shared online, you can contact the Gardai to report the incident and get help on what to do next.

Sharing a sexual or nude image or video of somebody without their consent is illegal and it is never okay. If you are sent an image like this, do not pass it on to anyone else. Report the content if it has been shared on a social media platform, and tell the person who sent it to you that they should not be sending the image to anyone.

In this section

What is 'image based sexual abuse'?

Image based sexual abuse, also known as non-consensual pornography, sextortion, or revenge porn, is when someone shares nude or sexual images or videos of another person, without the permission or consent of that person. It might be done by a partner or ex-partner, someone you know, or someone you don't know like a hacker. More often than not, this distribution happens online, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.

How does image based sexual abuse happen?

Some people like to share sexual images or video of themselves with someone they are interested in sexually or with a partner. This can be a normal activity within a healthy, consensual interaction or relationship. However, it is not normal, healthy or acceptable in any way, to share these images with others without the persons' consent. It is cruel, hurtful, and can be hugely damaging. Furthermore, it says many more negative things about the person who shared the photos, than of the person who is in them.

How to avoid image based sexual abuse

Firstly and most importantly, do not under any circumstances distribute sexual images of anyone without their consent. No matter how much you feel they hurt you or treated you badly, or even if you don't know the person, you have no right to share images or videos of them that were privately shared. Regardless of how badly a relationship ended, this is a deeply cruel violation of trust and is not an acceptable or normal response.

If you are concerned about image based sexual abuse happening to you, here are some steps you can take:

  • Until you feel confident you can trust a partner, you should avoid sharing sexual images or videos of yourself with them. It can be hard to know when you can truly trust someone, so if you feel any sense of worry or doubt, just hold off.
  • If you are going to share intimate photos or video with someone, you can avoid putting distinguishing features in the images, such as your face, a location that gives you away, or a tattoo or birthmark.
  • If you feel your partner is pressuring you in any way to share sexual images or videos when you don’t feel comfortable, discuss it with them and let them know their behaviour is making you uncomfortable. If they don't address your concerns, it might be best to consider breaking up with them. That sort of behaviour is unacceptable.

There are naked photos/videos of me online. What do I do?

If someone shares intimate images or video of you without your permission, or threatens to, don’t feel guilty or ashamed. It may feel upsetting, hurtful or embarrassing, but the only person who has done anything to be ashamed of is the person trying to target you.

If you have been the victim of image based sexual abuse where intimate images of you have been shared online, or you have been threatened that they will be shared, you can contact the Garda National Protective Services Bureau to report the incident and get help on what to do next.

Intimate images being shared without your permission can be a really upsetting experience. If it’s happened to you, and you’re struggling to cope with your feelings about it, make sure you talk to friends or family about how you're feeling. If you feel you cannot talk to them about it, find someone you trust to talk to, or reach out to a service anonymously. You may need counselling or other professional help to help you cope. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help - it’s totally normal to require professional help to help you through a traumatic experience like this.

Looking after your mental health is the most important part of this process. Beyond that, here are some other steps you can take if intimate images of you have been shared:

  • Untag yourself if tagged on social media
  • Contact the person who has posted it and request they take it down
  • Report it to the website in question and request they remove it. Sometimes this may take a bit of time, see our fact sheets on how to report content for social media platforms here
  • Talk to a family member straight away and get them to help you; it may be embarrassing at first, but it’s better they’re aware and able to help you 
  • Contact the Gardai to report the incident and get help on what to do next.
  • You may want to deactivate your social media accounts. If you don't it is a good idea to take a step back from your accounts.
  • Contact a legal professional to engage their assistance in removing it and demanding the person who shared it to surrender all copies they possess. Under Data Protection and copyright law, you have the legal right to have these images taken off the internet.
  • Create social media profiles for your name. This will push the bad search results off the first pages of Google. There are professional privacy companies who can help you to do this.

Remember, that while this experience might be overwhelming and awful now, this will pass and things will get better. It can be hard when you're in the middle of going through a difficult situation to feel that things will change, but it's true. Make sure to speak to someone you trust and get support. It’s important to have someone who can help you through a challenging time - so make sure you don’t try to deal with it alone.

Image based sexual abuse and the law

Coco's Law

Ireland now has laws that make sharing or threatening to share someone's nudes without their consent a crime. The punishment for this crime includes:

  • An unlimited fine and/or up to seven years in prison if you meant to cause harm to the victim by sharing or threatening to share their nudes without their consent
  • A maximum €5,000 fine and/or up to 12 months in prison if you did not mean to cause harm by sharing or threatening to share someone's nudes without their consent

These laws apply even if the person initially gave consent for the picture to be taken, but they were later shared with other people without their consent.

Under the age of 18

Remember, if you are under 18, a sexual image of you will be considered child exploitation material. This means that you and the person you send it too could be in some very serious trouble.

Having a sexual picture or video of someone under 18 years of age, and sending that picture to other people, is illegal and can lead to criminal prosecution. Penalties can include jail time, a fine, and being added to the sex offenders register for at least two and a half years.

Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?

If you are a customer of the 48 network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 0861800280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’

Share this article -

Published Octo­ber 14th2014
Tags sexual abuse revenge porn break up
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

Need more information?

Request to speak with a youth worker in your area over the phone, by email or text. They may be able to assist you by providing further information specific to your needs.

Youth Work Ireland - Crosscare - YMCA

Contact via: Phone E-mail Text
By clicking submit you agree to our terms and conditions. ​Please note that this service is run by Youth Work Ireland and Crosscare​.​ E​nquiries are not handled by SpunOut.ie directly.
Jump to related articles
Was this article helpful?