Noelle Martin fights to have harmless selfie removed from ‘parasite’ porn sites.

Noelle Martin was just 17 years old when predators stole a “selfie” she posted on her Facebook feed and plastered it over porn websites around the world.

Other harmless social photos of the young woman were also copied and pasted onto porn sites where users made explicit comments about her appearance, a practice referred to as “parasite porn”.

In others users doctored images to put her head on the body of porn stars, known as “morph” porn.

Now aged 22, Ms Martin is finishing a law degree and said she felt violated by the continuing use of her image.

She is concerned the online images make her appear as if she has voluntarily contributed to the sites.

“They can ruin a girl’s life by this. They literally can ruin a girl’s life by what they’re doing,” she said.

Ms Martin discovered the violation of her image using a reverse Google image search.

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This is where users drop an image file into the Google image search tool and it shows where pictures matching that image are published on the internet.

“I was at my uni residence and it was around two o’clock in the morning and I was just at home on my computer and I just decided to Google image reverse myself,” she said.

“They were saying things like ‘the amount of come that’s been spilt over her could fill a swimming pool’. Or, ‘cover her face and we’d f*** her body’. I was called trash, a slut.

“It was like my heart and my stomach sank to the ground and I felt sick. Like disgustingly sick.”

Victim blackmailed after trying to get photos taken down

Ms Martin was 18 when she discovered her image had been stolen and has been fighting websites to have her image taken down since.

She said when she asked one site to remove her photo the webmaster tried to blackmail her.

He asked for nude images of her for his own private collection in exchange for removing her photos from the public site.

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It is a practice well-known to Australia’s Children’s eSafety commissioner Andree Wright, who said there were a rising number of cases of “sex-tortion” around Australia.

“We found in July and August one in four of the young people who came to us who had been cyber-bullied were experiencing this type of situation,” she said.

Ms Martin said she went to local police, the Australian Federal Police and multiple other federal authorities who were all sympathetic but simply referred her onto another department.

“How currently, under law, is it okay for them [the perpetrators] to do that? It’s allowed. How is this justice? How is this proper for anyone?” she said.

Ms Martin said she wanted to reclaim her name and her image and has a message for those who stole her pictures.

“This needs to stop we need to send a message that men and these perverts can’t abuse and violate women like this,” she said.

Now she has teamed up with other victims of parasite porn to campaign for tougher laws to protect against these types of image violations.

Ms Martin’s story comes as states and territories grapple with how to legislate to protect victims of so-called revenge porn.

Women’s advocacy groups want the practice re-named “image-based sexual abuse”.

“I think revenge porn is probably a misnomer, because it implies that it’s about revenge and it’s about pornography,” said Karen Bentley, director of the Safety Net Australia project for the Women’s Services Network.

“Quite often it’s not about that at all — so we prefer the term image based sexual abuse, or image based sexual exploitation.”

Ms Bentley delivers technology safety training to Australian agencies and organisations that work with women experiencing or escaping gender-based violence and stalking.

She said image based assault was a new control tactic used by abusive partners, but bringing perpetrators to justice was not easy.

“So there are all those kind of international cross border jurisdictional issues that we have as well as the burden of proof,” she said.

“How do you prove who’s actually posted the image online? It’s very easy to hide your fingerprints on the internet.”

South Australian and Victoria have moved to create laws that make sharing “intimate” images without consent a crime.

NSW considering laws around doctored images

The New South Wales Government has just published a discussion paper that also looks at whether neutral images that have been photoshopped should be included in the definition.

NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said she heard first hand from victims about the profound impact revenge porn had on them.

“As a mother of a teenage daughter I do have a small insight I think into how those kind of actions that can now be taken with mobile phones so available enabling these images to be shared across phones, platforms, the internet and that’s why we must have this discussion now,” she said.

While she said there were issues around having consistent laws nationally, legislators wanted state-based laws so sharing revenge porn could be written into state criminal codes, thus making it a crime.

Take Down Notices can be issued for images of children used in Australian websites, but it is a different issue when it comes to adults or overseas websites.

That is why advocates like Ms Bentley emphasise the importance of having high security settings on social media.

” A lot of commentators will say basically well you can protect yourself by not posting your images online but … it’s not possible – you are going to have images online,” she said.

“I think if you are posting online or if you’ve got online accounts … basically you need to understand your privacy settings on your email and privacy accounts particularly if you’re storing photos online.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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