This is not your fault
TELLING YOUR STORY CAN BE HARD, BUT IT’S IMPORTANT.
Your trust has been broken, and no matter who you are, having your trust broken is unbelievably painful. Dealing with sextortion is scary and overwhelming. It can make you feel alone and like you can’t tell anyone, but find someone you’re close with and share what’s going on. When we talk to people who have gone through this and come out on the other side, they often say, “I wish I had reached out sooner.”
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You are not alone, you can handle this!
If you’re asked to share something that makes you uncomfortable, you have a right to say no, even if you already shared something with them before. If they try to make you feel bad, just remember: THEY are the ones who who are doing something wrong.
Talk with someone you trust
Addressing your feelings is important, and talking with people who care about you can help, like a close friend, teacher, counselor, or parent. Don’t know where to start? You can start a conversation like this:
“There’s something going on in my life that I need help with. I’m not sure who to talk to – if I tell you, can you help me figure out what to do?“
Though you may hesitate because the threats seem stronger than the benefit of resisting, here is evidence showing that resisting is usually ideal.
“Reaching out is the best thing you can do. The people around you want what is the best for you. They may be angry at first, but at the end, they will not love you any less… They might even gain some respect for your courage.“
– Female, 18, responding to Thorn survey
Reaching out is the best thing you can do. The people around you want what is the best for you. They may be angry at first, but at the end, they will not love you any less… They might even gain some respect for your courage.
GET HELP. Text "THORN" to 741741
to confidentially speak with a trained counselor. They will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment and are trained to support people in crisis. Learn more about how it works here.
Tech companies can help remove images and in some cases remove the threats. You can report both the people threatening you, their threats, and the images if they’ve been shared. This removal guide has steps to make reports on many major platforms.
You can also call the police. Some victims told us that police resolved the situation, but you should know that if police get involved, you could face some consequences too. It’s illegal to share sexual images of minors even if they are of you. Most of the time, we recommend starting off with a trusted adult, and deciding together how to include police.
Mention if age is under 18
If you are under 18, say that you are under 18 (even if your profile has a different age). It helps companies to know that
you’re legally still a minor and take more aggressive action. Also, if you are a minor in the images, you can report them to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They work hard to keep young people safe, and will make your report available to law enforcement.
This probably feels like the opposite of what you were thinking, but keep everything that is being said to you and that you have said. This will help show someone what happened instead of just relying on your memory. Save texts, pictures, videos, websites, etc. You can take screenshots and save webpages as PDFs. Save everything just incase.
If someone knows your passwords, change them immediately to maintain your privacy. Tools like lastpass can help keep your privacy, private.
If you need help text "Thorn" to 741741
A trained Crisis Text Line counselor will be there to support you anonymously.
How to know if you're a target
Sometimes a situation might feel “off”, but you aren’t quite sure why. Or things may start off friendly, but start to slide out of control. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Learn how to identify if what you’re experiencing is sextortion.
Celebrate your friends
And lift others up. Sextortion can lead to bullying and make people feel really alone. Instead, make your friends feel great by telling them what you think makes them unique and why you love that specific thing. You can also join a community of people fighting online harassment at HeartMob and send supportive messages to victims of sextortion and other types of harassment.
The reason I didn’t want to speak up is because I was afraid of what the adults in my life might think of me. I thought it was all my fault and I figured that’s what they would tell me.
Female, 17, sextortion survivor
Tell someone you trust about the situation. It is a tough thing to go through alone, let alone dangerous. Especially since many of us are at a young age when we go through it, it’s wise to go through it with people older who can handle it with you.
Male, 14, sextortion survivor
You trusted someone and they let you down. Don't blame yourself.
Female, 17, sextortion survivor
For Your Friends