Supporting a person struggling with shame following the sharing of nudes
Understanding shame and accessing support
Image based sexual abuse refers to the sharing of intimate or nude photos or videos without the person’s consent. The sending of sexual messages and images to another person is increasingly seen as part of relationships in potential or current romantic partners. However, sometimes following an image being shared, a young person, male and female may experience significant shame. I could spend a long time talking about double standards, gender stereotypes, current relationship dating practices, but the focus of this article is about how to help if you or a young adult or friend is experiencing significant shame following the sharing of nudes. Shame associated with image based sexual abuse is an increasingly common issue in my psychology practice.
Finding out that nude photos or videos of yourself have been shared is usually a very stressful experience. Many people report feelings of shame as one of the most painful emotions humans can experience. When you are thinking about images being shared, you may develop beliefs about this such as, ''there is something wrong with me'' or ''people will look down on me'' and maybe you experience feelings of unworthiness. Once you start experiencing shame, you may also remember other times in your life when you felt shame. It is important to acknowledge that the person who shared the images did something wrong and not the person who had the images recorded.
When we experience shame, we often withdraw from those around us. If someone you know appears to be experiencing shame, following nudes being shared. To support this person let them know you are available to listen and talk if they want and keep connecting with them. Encourage them to practice good self-care. Read more on self-care here. You can report this type of abuse to the eSafety commissioner. If you or the person you care about don’t seem to recover after a few weeks or you notice increasing withdrawal and low moods, then you might need to encourage them to seek professional mental health assistance.
Want more information on reporting online abuse, the eSafety Commissioner website provides further information
If this information raises concerns for yourself or someone you know, there is support available. You can connect with help here
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800