I’m Noelle Martin, currently in my final semester of Law/Arts here at Macquarie University. Throughout my degree I became the victim of image based abuse (an issue that affects around 1 in 5 Australians). For around 5 years I was subjected to horrifying, degrading, objectifying and harassing online abuse where many of my ordinary social media images were stolen and digitally manipulated into pornographic material and published on many pornographic sites.
Despite reaching out to police and government authorities, I was told I had to try to delete these sites myself because there weren’t any specific laws that dealt with image based abuse. So, in between my law studies I would spend my days contacting webmasters to delete and halt the dissemination of these altered images. At a certain point, the immense concern and personal toll this was causing me forced me to speak out, reclaim my name, and raise awareness about this issue.
I was interviewed by the 7:30 Report on ABC in late 2016, and my story went viral around the world. But I didn’t stop there. I created a petition with the Australian Parliament and change.org, and among other things I contacted my State and Federal MP’s. I was then referred to the NSW Attorney General’s Department. The NSW Attorney General and his team had worked tirelessly to draft a bill (which has now passed Parliament!) to make threatening, sharing or recording intimate images without consent a crime in NSW with a possible 3 years imprisonment and an $11,000 fine.
‘Intimate images’ includes ‘altered’ images. The Bill also empowers courts to issue take-down powers so that perpetrators must take reasonable steps to remove the material upon conviction. I stood alongside the NSW Attorney General at the public announcement of the image based abuse bill this year. Now, the Federal Government plans on enacting a civil penalties regime for image based abuse, and I contributed a formal submission to the public consultation. I hope to one day work in this area or in public prosecutions and continue to fight for justice, and hopefully soon victims, well actually, survivors will be able to receive the justice they deserve.
Written by Noelle Martin, Macquarie Law Student