Author Identifier

Brienna L Webb

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours


School of Arts and Humanities

First Supervisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Second Supervisor

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