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Online Abuse Types

Online abuse of the LGBTIQA+ community is a widespread problem. By learning about the various forms of online abuse, individuals can take steps to protect themselves and effectively handle the effects of such abuse.

At Catalyst Foundation, we understand that every case of online abuse is different and strive to assist all Australians in preventing and handling such abuse. To achieve this, we offer information, resources, and education, and also investigate severe cases of abuse and work to remove harmful content.

Cyber abuse of adults

Adult cyber abuse refers to the use of online communication to threaten, harass, or offend an adult with the intention of causing serious harm. eSafety provides resources and information to help adults protect themselves from cyber abuse, handle such abuse, and access counseling and support. In certain cases, e-Safety can also investigate and remove harmful content.

For more information about adult cyber abuse and the distinction between adult cyber abuse and online hate, please read more here.

“I was always aware of my gender identity from a young age, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I finally decided to transition.”

“It was a difficult journey, but I was finally starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. However, as soon as I started to live openly as a transgender person, I encountered a new form of oppression – cyber abuse. I began receiving hateful messages online, many of them aimed directly at my identity as a transgender person. The messages were filled with slurs, threats, and accusations. I tried to ignore the messages at first, but they quickly became overwhelming. They started to impact my mental health and my sense of safety.”

– Janusz*

What to do if you are experiencing online abuse:

  • If you are in immediate danger or at risk of harm in Australia, call the police at Triple Zero (000).
  • If the harmful content violates the terms of use of the service or platform on which it was sent, posted, or shared, you can report the abuse to that service or platform. This is often the quickest way to have the content removed. The eSafety Guide explains how to report complaints to common services and platforms, such as social media sites, online games, and apps.
  • If your experience meets the legal definition of adult cyber abuse and the service or platform does not respond within 48 hours, you can report the harmful content to eSafety using their online form.
  • To manage the effects of the abuse, you can follow the steps outlined in the eSafety Guide.

Note: If someone makes defamatory comments about you online that cause reputational harm, this issue is typically handled by the legal system, not eSafety. In such cases, you may want to seek legal advice. A lawyer may be able to write a cease-and-desist letter to the responsible party in certain circumstances, in addition to pursuing litigation.

Image Based Abuse

Image-based abuse, also known as “revenge porn,” occurs when someone shares or threatens to share intimate, nude, or sexual images without the consent of the individuals depicted. eSafety supports anyone experiencing image-based abuse, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. An “intimate image” is defined as one that displays nudity, sexual poses, or private activities such as undressing or showering. The police and eSafety commisioner also assists with the persecution of persons who share or threaten to share of images of a person’s breasts or chest if the person identifies as female, non-binary, transgender, or intersex and regards this part of their body as private.

Sharing a nude or sexual image or video of someone without their consent is a violation of trust that can have serious consequences and cause significant harm to the person’s reputation and emotional well-being. If you have been sent a photo, consider whether the sender has given you explicit consent to share it with others. If they have not, it is important not to share the image.

If you are experiencing image-based abuse, you can report it to eSafety to request assistance in removing the images.


Doxing occurs when someone deliberately releases your personal information online without your permission. This can include your full name, home address, date of birth, or credit card details. If you would like to learn more about doxing, you can find additional information on the topic.

“I had always been very careful about what I shared online.”

“I was aware of the risks associated with being too open online, so I made sure to keep my personal information private. However, one day, I woke up to a nightmare. My personal information – my full name, address, and phone number – had been shared all over the internet. I was horrified to see that this information had been posted on multiple websites, along with false and damaging information about me. I quickly realized that I had been doxxed. I felt violated and exposed, like my entire life was now on display for anyone to see. I was scared for my safety and the safety of my family.”

– Trista*

What to do if you are experiencing doxing:

To prevent doxing, you can adjust your privacy settings on social media, use strong passwords for your accounts, and be cautious about how much personal information you share online. For more information about protecting your personal information, visit this page.

If you are being threatened by a current or former partner, contact 1800RESPECT for help and refer to eSafety’s advice on domestic and family violence, including tech abuse.

Online Scams

It is important to be cautious about revealing personal information to someone you have just met online. Scammers may try to steal your identity and money, so be mindful of how much personal information you share.

What to do if you have encountered an online scam:

Find out more about theft of your identity, impersonating and catfishing here.