Behavioral Intentions of Bystanders to Image-Based Sexual Abuse: A Preliminary Focus Group Study with a University Student Sample

Mainwaring, Chelsea; Scott, Adrian J. and Gabbert, Fiona. 2023. Behavioral Intentions of Bystanders to Image-Based Sexual Abuse: A Preliminary Focus Group Study with a University Student Sample. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 32(3), pp. 318-339. ISSN 1053-8712 [Article]

No full text available
[img] Text
Mainwaring et al., 2023, WCSA-2023-0021.pdf - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only until 15 March 2024.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (259kB)

Abstract or Description

Image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) represents a form of technology-facilitated sexual abuse that encompasses the taking, creating, and/or sharing (including threats to share) of nude or sexual images without consent. Unlike physical sexual violence contexts, little is known regarding if and how bystanders intervene in IBSA contexts. The current preliminary study aimed to address this gap in the literature. Specifically, seven focus groups with a sample of 35 university students (31 females, 4 males) were conducted to explore how they think they would behave (i.e., their behavioral intentions) if they were bystanders to three different IBSA scenarios: non-consensual taking, non-consensual sharing, and threatening to share nude or sexual images. Transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis and the following themes were identified: perpetrator-centered action, victim-centered action, justice-centered action, and intervention as a well-informed and controlled process. Participants discussed how they would intervene by approaching the perpetrator, either in a confrontational or non-confrontational way, or approach the victim to inform them of what was happening, provide advice, or to support them. They also discussed involving the police. However, some group members were against these forms of intervention, particularly approaching the perpetrator and involving the police. Finally, many participants indicated that their actions need to be well-informed. These findings highlight a wide range of bystander actions in IBSA contexts that have implications for the development of policies, educational materials, and measures of bystander intervention behavior in future research.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

“This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.”


Bystander intervention; social-justice ally; behavioral intentions; image-based sexual abuse; revenge pornography; non-consensual pornography; technology-facilitated sexual abuse

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Forensic Psychology Unit


20 February 2023Accepted
15 March 2023Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Feb 2023 13:49

Last Modified:

17 Apr 2023 13:52

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)