Author Identifiers

Brienna L Webb
ORCID: 0000-0002-1625-0704

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours


School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Second Advisor

Dr Madalena Grobbelaar


Being a highly convoluted and contemporaneous issue, defining and conceptualising image based sexual abuse has proved difficult for scholars. Although research on image-based sexual abuse is limited, previous inquiries have identified serious consequences and accumulative harms for affected individuals. I aimed to explore the lived experience and consequences of image-based sexual abuse as identified by women, in an attempt to taper the research dearth on this phenomenon. An in-depth qualitative phenomenological exploration of seven women’s experiences of image-based sexual abuse saw five overarching themes emerge from participants’ discourse. The themes comprised mental health impacts; perceptions of self; loss of control; mistrust; and experiences of abuse. Along with depressed mood, shame, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress, which have been identified outcomes in previous literature, participants experienced eating issues and body dysmorphic related consequences as an antecedent to self-objectification. As new findings, my study has identified that participants revealed experiences of sexual re-victimisation, polyvictimisation, chronic abuse, and presented with significant and enduring inter-relational disturbances. In addition, image-based sexual abuse may be a precursor to domestic violence vulnerability. Experiences of victim blaming presented a barrier to support seeking subsequent to the abuse, producing secondary victimisation and contributing to isolation, feelings of loneliness, and a lack of support. Managing this diverse, multifaceted, and complex social issue may benefit from a multidisciplinary approach that considers the interpersonal and societal factors implicated in image-based sexual abuse. Clinical implications such as working within a trauma informed approach are discussed and future directions are explicated.

Available for download on Monday, July 29, 2024