What are Some Examples of Image-Based Sexual Abuse?

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5 Types of Image-Based Sexual Abuse You Need to Know

5 Types of Image-Based Sexual Abuse You Need to Know

Mar 21, 2024

Image-based sexual abuse – commonly referred to as IBSA – has received worldwide attention recently following the dissemination of deepfake intimate images targeting celebrities like Taylor Swift, Jenna Ortega, and Scarlett Johansson.

What are Some Examples of Image-Based Sexual Abuse?

Deepfakes and other forms of IBSA have been referred to as a “pandemic,” an “increasing threat,” and a “race against time” in terms of enacting laws protecting both adults and children.

Image-based sexual abuse can take many forms. This blog will review the Top 5 Types of Image-Based Sexual Abuse that everyone should know and include information for victims who may wish to pursue legal action against either an individual or an entity responsible for the creation or dissemination of IBSA/deepfake content.

What is Image-Based Sexual Abuse?

Image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) is defined as the act of sharing intimate or sexually explicit images or videos (those displaying nudity or the person performing a sexual act) without the victim’s consent. When IBSA occurs, it is intended to cause emotional distress, trauma, or damage to one’s reputation.

Images or videos can be shared via websites, social media, email, and text or messaging services. In many cases, perpetrators of IBSA share this nonconsensual content with the victim’s employer, friends, or family in an effort to cause harm. Images or videos that are altered through artificial intelligence (AI) or photo-shopped are also considered IBSA.

In short, any type of nonconsensual image or video sharing that depicts a victim in an intimate or sexual act is considered image-based sexual abuse or IBSA. IBSA is a crime, and can carry criminal penalties and also open perpetrators to civil lawsuits.

How is Consent Defined in Cases of Image-Based Sexual Abuse (IBSA)?

When it comes to IBSA, consent is critical. In fact, consent is actually required twice in order for someone to legally use your intimate or sexual image.

Firstly, when a photo or video is taken, the person must give consent. If your intimate photo or video was taken when you were unaware and did not give permission, an instance of image-based sexual abuse may have occurred.

Secondly, even if you did give permission to someone to take an intimate or sexual image/video of yourself, you must again consent to the image being shared or disseminated with a third party.

In many IBSA cases, consent is not explicitly given, and images are either obtained or distributed without the victim’s knowledge. For example, the victim might have been unaware that the photo was taken or coerced to share the picture, or perhaps the perpetrator had stolen or hacked it. In many IBSA cases of revenge porn (also known as nonconsensual distribution of sexually explicit material), images that were initially shared with consent in an intimate relationship are then shared nonconsensually with others – often after a breakup – in an attempt to harm the victim.

What are Some Examples of Image-Based Sexual Abuse (IBSA)?

IBSA can manifest in many forms. The Top 5 Most Common Types of Image-Based Sexual Abuse include:

  1. Deepfakes (synthetic intimate images): Deepfakes have generated significant attention of late following the leak of sexually explicit images altered to target musician Taylor Swift. This type of IBSA features images or videos created by artificial intelligence to insert a person’s face into explicit, intimate, or sexual content without their knowledge and/or consent. Synthetic images or deepfakes are not real – in the sense that the victim depicted in them has been digitally altered. However, as Dordulian Law Group founder and revenge porn attorney Sam Dordulian notes in a video with survivor Uldouz Wallace, the effects of deepfakes can be real and devastating.
  2. Revenge Porn (nonconsensual distribution of sexually explicit material – NCDSEM): Often referred to as revenge porn, the act of distributing nonconsensual intimate images can be devastating to victims. Also known as nonconsensual distribution of intimate images or NDII, revenge porn crimes commonly occur after tumultuous relationships or breakups with significant others. Sam Dordulian appeared on the Dr. Phil Show in 2022 to discuss the issue with survivors, including how to seek legal remedies for damages.
  3. Sextortion: Sextortion crimes typically involve adults preying on unsuspecting children. The crimes often begin when an adult contacts a minor over any online platform used to meet and communicate, such as a game, app, or social media account. Sextortion schemes have recently become more prevalent, according to the FBI. A predator will often pose as a young girl and then use deception and manipulation to convince a young male – commonly between 14 and 17 years old – to engage in explicit activity over video. However, the video is usually secretly recorded by the predator. As a result, the predator may then initiate contact under the guise of a friendship. Cases of scammers posing as employees for modeling agencies and requesting photos and/or videos have been reported frequently in recent months, and many cases have tragically led to victim’s dying by suicide.
  4. Recording of Sexual Violence (RSV): A crime of recording sexual violence occurs when someone takes pictures or creates videos of someone else’s sexual assault. A common example of this is videoing sex-trafficking victims who are repeatedly assaulted or raped by their traffickers. These recordings are often shared online via designated websites or through social media platforms. In some cases, RSV content has even been made available on mainstream pornographic websites. In a case of RSV occurring in Australia, Frank Hu, the manager of an immigration and education agency, drugged many women with drinks that were laced in sedatives. He then raped them and filmed the abuse. Hu posted thousands of photos and videos of unconscious women on an online pornography website that caters to people who are interested in having sex with “sleeping” women. As we’ve noted many times on the Dordulian Law Group (DLawGroup), blog, consent is always mandatory when engaging in a sexual act.
  5. Cyberflashing: Cyberflashing is defined as an act of sending someone an unsolicited or unwanted explicit image or video. Cyberflashing crimes often occur as a form of online harassment, and the effects on victims can be just as serious as if the instance occurred physically through flashing. Perpetrators of cyberflashing often conceal their identities, making it difficult to prosecute through the criminal justice system.

What Should I Do as a Victim of Image-Based Sexual Abuse (IBSA)?

In California, it is illegal to distribute intimate images of someone without his or her consent. California laws mandate that if the disseminator acts with intent which could cause emotional harm or distress to the victim, legal remedies may be pursued. This includes all forms of IBSA – revenge porn, sextortion, deepfakes, etc.

Additionally, it’s important to note that image-based sexual abuse can take many forms:

  • Images or videos which were obtained secretively (without the victim ever knowing they were being filmed/photographed)
  • Images or videos initially obtained consensually (e.g. through an intimate relationship) but without permission to distribute online

Even if you shared nude or sexually explicit images with someone, if that person then distributed the content online without your consent, you may be able to pursue a civil lawsuit for financial compensation with DLawGroup (in addition to any criminal charges which may be filed).

To begin the process of filing your IBSA (revenge porn, deepfake, sextortion, cyberflashing) lawsuit, contact DLawGroup’s experienced Los Angeles-area sex crimes attorneys today by calling 866-GO-SEE-SAM.

Additional Services for Image-Based Sexual Abuse victims

Foundation Ra is a survivor led nonprofit organization founded by Uldouz Wallace. The organization has partnered with Sam Dordulian and DLawGroup to help provide survivors of image-based sexual abuse with legal representation in addition to myriad support services.

Foundation Ra supports children, women, and men who have been victimized through IBSA. The organization works relentlessly to protect and prevent all forms of image-based sexual abuse.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

For a list of essential resources provided by Foundation Ra – including mental health support, takedown services, and more – please click here.


Go See Sam