Maybe you fell in love. Maybe it was a joke or a dare. Maybe it felt like you didn't have a choice at all. No matter why you decided to sext, you probably thought that it would stay private. Only it didn't. Now your photo or video is out there, an you don't know what to do. You may be worried that peers who see it will judge and bully you, or that your family will by angry or disappointed. You may feel like there's nothing you can do to escape the situation...
But that's not true! While you can't get your image back, you can take steps to;
- Get it removed from websites.
- Help stop it from spreading.
- Get emotional support.
- Deal with bullies.
This is one of the best ways to stop your image from spreading if it is on a website/app or being shared without your consent.
REPORT IT :
- To the website or app.
- Trustworthy websites/apps work hard to keep off sexual images of minors and will remove them if notified. You can also report anyone who is posting or sharing images of you. For more information about reporting to popular websites/apps, visit MissingKids.org/TakeitDown.
- To CyberTipline.org.
- This tipline can connect you with the experts best suited to work on your case. They may contact the website or the police, or reach out to you for more details. You can report without sharing your name and can even make a report for a friend if they need help.
- To the police.
- They can help stop your image from spreading by working with websites/apps and talking to the people sharing it. You should know if the police get involved, you could face some consequences, too. It’s illegal to share sexual images of minors even if they are of you. You may not be charged with a crime, but you may have to attend classes or complete community service.
- To a teacher.
- If your pictures are being shared around school, your teachers and school administrators can help stop it by making clear there are consequences for sharing them.
One of the worst things about a sexting incident is feeling like you’re facing everything alone. But you have people who care for you and want to help. Talk to them!
- Your friends can stand up for you by refusing to forward the image and making it clear that it’s not cool to share the image or bully you.
- A trusted adult can offer advice, help you report, and help you deal with other complicated things. It could be your mom, dad, an aunt, a school counselor, or anyone you trust and are comfortable talking to.
- Teachers can remind your classmates and peers about your school’s rules and codes on bullying and help put a stop to any bullying behavior.
- If you feel that your school is ignoring the bullying, ask your mom, dad, or guardian for help. They can champion your case at your school, with your teachers, and other adults.
Don't Give Up
Having a nude or sexual image of yourself floating around is scary. It can make you feel vulnerable and isolated. But remember, other teens have been in the same situation you are – and they have beaten it.
The people who have taken advantage of you want you to feel powerless. But you are not powerless. You are strong. You can take charge of your situation and take back control of your life.
What if I'm being blackmailed?
Blackmail is when someone tries to threaten or scare you into doing something. For example, teens may share sexual images with people they trust, only to have those people turn on them. They may threaten to send the images to teens’ families unless the teens share more images.
If you’re being blackmailed, you may feel helpless or guilty. You may think you don’t have the right to say “no” because you shared the first image willingly. WRONG! Blackmail is illegal and you don’t have to take it.
Stop any communications with blackmailers. They’ll try to use your conversations to threaten and manipulate you – don’t give them the chance. Even if you have already started communicating with them, it’s never too late to stop and report it.
Block or remove the blackmailer from your contact list. If you decide to deactivate your accounts, contact the websites/apps for help.
Make a report to the police and CyberTipline.org right away. Seriously. They can help. They may want to see any messages you’ve received from the blackmailer.