When someone uses pressure or coercion to get nude or sexually explicit photos from another person, that’s usually a form of sexual harassment.Young people need to see that pressure for what it is – that it’s inherently disrespectful and abusive, that they owe themselves the self-respect that prevents this victimization, and that there are laws against it in many jurisdictions.You can do a Web search for “legal aid” or “legal assistance” in your town or city. If you have a case and after getting legal advice about gathering evidence and making sure there’s enough evidence for a case, requesting that any photos in a Web site be taken down – through the site’s abuse-reporting system.
They need to know that, if you took the photos and they report them to the police, they could potentially cause criminal charges to be brought against the people involved. The same is true if the person is threatening to share photos of you for money or sex (“sextortion”): If you’re under 18, think through carefully who you tell. In many jurisdictions, school personnel, legal advisers and law enforcement people are required by law to report potential victimization of minors, which means that even talking with them about a “hypothetical” case could involve the person seeking advice in a criminal investigation.
So in situations involving someone under 18, a good start might be seeking advice anonymously (see the first option below).
In the US, there are victim advocates in county offices, police stations, domestic violence prevention centers, rape crisis centers, sheriff’s offices, and offices of state attorneys general.
Victim advocates can help you gather evidence, put together a safety plan (figure out how to keep you safe from what’s being threatened), and/or get a civil protection or anti-stalking order against the person threatening you.
Extortion victimizes someone by demanding money, property, sex, or some other “service” from the person and threatening to harm him or her if the demand isn’t met.
When digital photos are involved, the harm being threatened is often extreme embarrassment or loss of reputation through exposure or distribution of the person’s photos.
It’s important to keep in mind, too – whether or not sexting is illegal for people of any age in your state, province, or country – there can be significant psychological consequences, if coercion’s involved or if consensual sexting turns into a violation of trust between two people (if one partner later shares photos without the other’s consent).
There’s a broad range of motivations behind sexting – from digital flirting or attention-seeking to an aspect of sexual interplay to dating abuse or blackmail.
“Sexting” is a relatively new word that typically refers to sex-related or nude photos taken and shared via cellphone (most sexting happens on phones and doesn’t make it to the Web, according to research in the medical journal Pediatrics).
Some experts say sexting can also be just sexually explicit text.
But it can definitely be a form of victimization either from the outset or after a break-up or conflict in a relationship.