Online sexual coercion
You may have heard of online sexual coercion cases, but there will be many you don’t hear about, as people affected are generally too embarrassed to tell anyone.
It is now such an issue that Europol have made an awareness campaign about it.
What is online sexual coercion?
This is when someone uses the internet to get sexual photos or videos of you to get money or more sexual content from you.
It usually starts out as a friendly conversation over social media or chats while gaming. This person will insist on being your friend on social media, but only wants the contact information of your friends and family to use against you.
They will then ask you to send sexual content (photos or videos) or web chat with them. This content will then be used to get money, or more content, from you by the threat of it being sent to your friends/family or put on social media.
Who is at risk?
Online sexual coercion/extortion is something that lots of young people face. Sometimes you or someone you know may be a victim of this crime without even realising it.
Other times it may be a situation that you are in but you may feel that there is no way out. It is very important to understand that continuing to fulfill the request of the offender is not a way out. The way out is to say no.
How to prevent it?
There are lots of ways to prevent this from happening to you. One tip is to make sure that your social media privacy settings are locked down as much as possible. This limits the access any random individual has to your account and your information.
Be aware of who you communicate with, and to never share sexual content with anyone. The internet is a place where anyone can be who they want to be. Someone may say that they are a 16 year-old female, but is actually a 34 year-old male.
>> Read safe sexting for more
The possibilities are endless and this makes it very difficult to trust people online.
Sharing any kind of information online has risk. The most important thing is to think about what you are sharing and would you be comfortable with anyone else seeing it.
If it does happen to you
Do tell someone and seek help. You may feel embarrassed but you have basically been manipulated and are the victim of a crime.
If you are under the age of 18 years-old, tell a trusted adult and report it to the guards. Alerting authorities as soon as you can, can help detect who is behind this.
Amanda Todd’s story
Amanda Todd was a 15 year-old girl living in Canada, that was coerced into sending naked pictures of herself to someone she met online at 13 years-old. This person then shared these images with everyone in her school and created a fake Facebook profile in her name.
This led to extreme cases of bullying, online and offline, that forced her to move schools several times. It unfortunately led to her taking her own life.
If you witness something like this, resist any urge you might have to share this imagery, or weigh in with any comments or indeed anything that could add to the the distress of the person on the receiving end.