What Is Image-Based Sexual Abuse?

Clare McGinn and Erika Rackley from the University of Birmingham define image-based sexual abuse as:

“the ‘non-consensual creation and/or distribution of private, sexual images’ – includes typical revenge porn, as well as consensually taken images that have been hacked or stolen and then shared, but also covers the non-consensual creation of sexual imagery: for example photos and videos created by means of upskirting, forms of voyeurism and sextortion, or recordings of sexual assaults.”

1 in 8 social media users will become the victims of image-based sexual assault, and 90% of these victims are women.

What Are The Laws Surrounding IBSA?

Currently there is no legislation protecting victims from the sharing of their intimate photos without consent unless the images feature an underage person, in which case it is considered child pornography.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has stated that there is currently a plan to enact legislation put out by TD Brendan Howlin in 2017, which has been in the committee stages since 2019. This is the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill. We have been waiting for this bill to be signed into law for far too long.

As seen by recent events, delaying this bill any further could result in catastrophic consequences for hundreds, if not thousands of victims of IBSA. Legislation is needed now.

Supports For Victims

General and National Resources

Victims Alliance: victims@victimsalliance.ie

Crisis Text Line: 50808

Women’s Aid 24hr Freephone Helpline: 1800 341 900

Niteline: 1800793793 

Samaritans: 01 6710071 or 116 123

Pieta House: 016010000

Local Rape Crisis and Sexual Violence Centres:

Cork Sexual Violence Centre – phone: 1800 496 496 text: 087 1533393

Kerry Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre – 1800 633 333

Rape Crisis Midwest – 1800 311 511

Galway Rape Crisis Centre – 1800 355 355

Mayo Rape Crisis Centre – 1800 234 900

Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre Sligo, Leitrim & West Cavan – 1800 750 780

Donegal Sexual Abuse & RCC – 1800 448 844

Athlone Midlands Rape Crisis Centre – 1800 306 600

Regional Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre Tullamore – 1800 323 232

Tipperary Rape Crisis Centre – 1800 340 340

Rape Crisis Northeast – 1800 212 122

Waterford Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre – 1800 296 296

Wexford Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Service – 1800 330 033

Kilkenny Rape Crisis & Counselling Centre – 1800 478 478

Carlow & South Leinster Rape Crisis & Counselling Centre – 1800 727 737

Northern Ireland Specific Resources:

Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline – 0808 802 1414

The Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre – 0800 389 4424

Nexus Northern Ireland (Belfast) – 0800 389 4424

Nexus Northern Ireland (Enniskillen) – 028 6632 0046

Nexus Northern Ireland (Derry) – 028 7126 0566

UCC Specific Resources

Accessing counselling through UCC Student Health

UCC Niteline: Link to Instant Messaging Chat

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UCCSU Welfare Officer – welfare@uccsu.ie/+353861842697

What Are We Doing?

UCCSU have submitted a motion to Class Council to mandate future SU’s to continue the fight against IBSA and advocate on behalf of victims. This motion also includes the stipulation that incoming Welfare Officers must run at least one event raising awareness on IBSA during SHAG Week. The motion will be voted on at the 2nd Class Council of the year (24th November 2020).

UCCSU will continue to share resources and information from the End IBSA movement. These range from how victims can protect their mental health, their physical safety, their online presence to sharing petitions and emailing our local TDs.

The protection of victims and their privacy will be at the core of everything we do regarding this movement.

What Can You Do?

  • Contact your TDs and Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to demand that the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill be signed into Irish law as soon as possible You can see a list of your TDs and their contact information here.
  • Sign the petition
    A petition to make revenge porn a criminal offence in Ireland has already reached over 25,000 signatures. Put your name behind the movement and demand better from our government. Petition located here.
  • Talk to your friends about consent If you think your friends are more likely to listen to you than to attend a Consent Workshop, then sit down and have a chat to them about the importance of consent. If you see a friend sharing explicit images of someone without their consent, do not let it slide or joke it off. While the enactment of legislation will criminalise IBSA, it will not change the culture that has allowed IBSA to go unchecked for so long.
  • Attend rallies and events that support victims When someone has been made the victim of IBSA, chances are they are going to feel incredibly isolated and vulnerable. A huge show of solidarity is needed, so get behind victims and support the work they do to ensure this never happens to someone else. A streamed protest event will be taking place on the 28th of November at 3pm – link to the event here.


Ultimately the issue of image-based sexual abuse boils down to consent. Do you have consent to take the image? Do you have consent to upload the image online? If so – great! If not, you’re committing image-based sexual abuse.

The following resources are available for anyone looking to learn more about issues pertaining to consent:

  • Active* Consent
    The Active* Consent  workshops encourage young people from 16-24 to have positive and confident sexual health and well-being. They are based on the premise that consent is O.M.F.G. – ongoing, mutual and freely given. If you would like to organise an Active* Consent workshop for your class, club or society, get in contact with Jamie our Welfare Officer at welfare@uccsu.ie
  • Consent Matters Ireland
    The Consent Matters Ireland group have shared multiple video resources for you to educate yourself on the meaning and importance of consent.