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What is Sextortion?

Sextortion is a type of blackmail where the attacker threatens to share sexual images or videos of you with others unless you pay them or provide more sexual content. This definition of sextortion applies to people of any gender. While anyone can be targeted, attackers often focus on younger individuals.

Sextortion predators exploit their victims’ fear of embarrassment. They know that their victims don’t want humiliating content shared online, so they use threats to coerce young people into giving them money. Attackers might also threaten to send the images to the victim’s parents, school officials, or employers unless they comply with their demands.

What is Sextortion

How Does Sextortion Happen?

Usually, sextortion begins with a seemingly ordinary online conversation. The perpetrator then steers the interaction toward a romantic or sexual tone, eventually requesting the victim to send nude videos or photos.


To deceive their victims, these predators may use flattery or shower them with attention to create a sense of value, uniqueness, or importance. They may also manipulate the victim’s emotions by sharing a fabricated sob story in an attempt to evoke compassion. If the victim is emotionally vulnerable, the attacker might pose as a sympathetic confidant, ready to listen.

However, once the victim sends explicit material, the perpetrator either demands more content or requests payment to refrain from publishing or sharing the sexual material received. Often, the attacker will assume a false identity, posing as a teenager of the opposite gender, in order to build the victim’s trust.

Why do People Sextort?

There are various motives behind sextortion, including:

  • Financial gain: Blackmailers may exploit compromising images or messages to extort money or valuable items from their victims. Victims often comply with demands to prevent the exposure of their compromising content.
  • Gratifying sexual desires: Individuals who receive “sexts” or explicit images may use them to sexually manipulate and coerce victims into providing more sexual content.
  • Revenge: In the aftermath of relationship breakdowns, some individuals resort to blackmailing their ex-partners using previously shared intimate images, commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” This may stem from anger over the relationship’s end, aiming to instill fear or distress in their ex-partner by threatening to publicly share their intimate images.
  • Humiliation: Unfortunately, some individuals derive pleasure from humiliating or intimidating others. They may threaten to release sexually explicit messages and images solely to evoke anxiety and distress in the victim.

How Do You Know Who Can Be Trusted Online?

Determining whom to trust online can be challenging, but there are steps you can take to lower the risk of falling victim to sextortion. One approach is to only engage with individuals you’ve met in person. Even then, it’s essential to verify their online presence by checking details like their date of birth and recent posts for authenticity, as someone could hijack the identity of someone you know to deceive you.

Another method to gauge trustworthiness is examining mutual friends. If you share connections, reaching out to them to confirm face-to-face interactions with the individual can provide reassurance. This is crucial because sextortion perpetrators often create networks of “friends” and “contacts,” highlighting the importance of real-world meetings to confirm identity.

While some may consider phone conversations as sufficient proof of identity, it’s worth noting that individuals can still deceive by matching their claimed gender over the phone. Furthermore, exercise caution with video chats, as individuals may claim technical issues to avoid showing themselves while secretly recording the interaction.

📚 Also Read: Top Online Frauds And Scams You Need to Avoid Today (Expert Tips)

How To Protect Yourself Against Sextortion

Protecting yourself from sextortion doesn’t have to be complicated if you know what signs to watch for. Here are some straightforward steps to follow when interacting with others online or via text:

  • Avoid sharing too much personal information online. Be cautious if someone references details you’ve posted, as criminals can use these to build trust. For instance, they might pretend to be a student from a nearby school if you’ve mentioned a recent sports achievement.
  • Be cautious of strangers you encounter online. If you receive messages from unknown individuals, consider blocking or ignoring them since verifying their identity is challenging if they only exist online.
  • Be wary if someone is only accessible online. They might use stolen photos or claim locations as their own. Face-to-face communication is the only reliable proof of identity.
  • If someone you meet on an app or game suggests moving the conversation to another platform, proceed with caution. They might have ulterior motives for luring you away from the original platform.
  • Remember that everything you share online, including photos, videos, messages, and posts, can be shared and made public. Once shared, you lose control over where it ends up.
  • Don’t hesitate to seek help. Responsible adults, parents, school authorities, close friends, and law enforcement are willing to assist. Reporting the incident not only stops the current attack but also helps prevent future ones and allows authorities to investigate and protect others.

What to do if You Are Being Sextorted

If you are experiencing sextortion, remember that you are not alone. This type of abuse is unfortunately common, and there is no reason to feel ashamed. Here are immediate steps you should take:

Confide in Someone Close

It can be difficult to admit falling victim to sextortion due to embarrassment or fear of not being understood. However, your silence empowers the abuser. Reach out to someone you trust and explain the situation. They may offer practical assistance or simply provide emotional support, reducing feelings of isolation. Consider contacting a sextortion helpline for additional guidance.

Cease All Contact with the Perpetrator

Continued communication with the attacker grants them power over you. Cutting off contact removes their leverage and safeguards you from further harm. Whether or not you’ve complied with demands, sever all communication channels. Block the attacker on social media and your phone. Beware of new contacts following the block; predators often use multiple accounts for manipulation.

Preserve Communication Evidence

Retain all communication records as potential evidence for authorities. While you are not obligated to participate in legal proceedings, preserving messages aids law enforcement in tracking and prosecuting the perpetrator. Every communication and timestamp serves as valuable evidence.

Report to Authorities

Although sextortion may not have specific federal legislation, reporting incidents to law enforcement raises awareness and contributes to potential legislative changes. Informing the police can prevent future harm and encourage the enactment of relevant laws to combat sextortion effectively.

Tips for Parents

Online dating and chatting are common activities among young people, but unfortunately, teenagers can also fall victim to sextortion or even become perpetrators themselves. Here are some essential tips for parents to help their children stay safe:

  • Maintain open communication with your children and assure them that they can always approach you with any questions or concerns about their sexuality, online interactions, or sextortion experiences. Emphasize that they won’t face anger or punishment if they confide in you, even if they believe they are at fault. Offer the option for them to speak to another trusted adult if they prefer.
  • Stay informed about your children’s online activities by engaging in regular conversations with them, fostering an atmosphere of openness without passing judgment. Avoiding a judgmental attitude encourages them to share details about their online lives with you.
  • Educate your children about sextortion threats and when to seek help. Discuss various online risks, including catfishing, Facebook (messenger) sextortion, and sextortion email scams. Utilize online resources, such as informative articles, to supplement these discussions.
  • Discuss the potential repercussions of sharing personal information online, including details about their sexuality. Additionally, ensure they understand the harmful impact of engaging in sextortion and emphasize its illegal nature in many jurisdictions.


How does sextortion typically happen?

Sextortion often starts with seemingly ordinary online conversations, gradually steering towards romantic or sexual themes. The perpetrator manipulates emotions, such as flattery or sympathy, to coerce the victim into sending explicit material. Once obtained, the perpetrator may demand more content or payment to avoid publishing or sharing the material.

What motivates people to engage in sextortion?

There are various reasons behind sextortion, including financial gain, gratifying sexual desires, seeking revenge, or deriving pleasure from humiliating others.

How can one identify trustworthy individuals online?

Trustworthiness online can be challenging to ascertain, but some steps can reduce risks. It’s advisable to interact only with individuals you’ve met in person and verify their online presence through details like date of birth and recent posts. Additionally, mutual connections and face-to-face interactions serve as indicators of authenticity.

What steps can individuals take to protect themselves from sextortion?

Protecting oneself from sextortion involves avoiding oversharing personal information online, being cautious of strangers, discontinuing contact with suspicious individuals, preserving evidence of communication, and seeking help from trusted adults or authorities if targeted.

What should someone do if they are being sextorted?

If experiencing sextortion, it’s essential to confide in someone trusted, cease all communication with the perpetrator, preserve communication evidence, and report the incident to authorities for assistance and potential legal action.

How can parents safeguard their children from sextortion?

Parents can foster open communication with their children, staying informed about their online activities, educating them about online risks, discussing the consequences of sharing personal information, and emphasizing the importance of seeking help if targeted by sextortion.


Awareness and proactive measures are essential in combating sextortion. Understanding its methods, motives, and protective steps is crucial for safeguarding against this digital threat. By promoting open communication, educating individuals, and advocating for legislative action, we can work together to create safer online environments for all.


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