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The Sexual Health Education (SHE) Programme

Sextortion: The New Normal


In recent times, it has become normal to find leaked private videos or pictures of people on the internet. Content is king, they say, and the desire to troll, trend, be favoured by the algorithm, and make money is gradually eliminating humanity and consideration for each other. 

What is Sextortion?

Sextortion is the short term for ‘financially motivated sexual extortion.’ It is a situation where an online predator deceives an individual into sharing private videos or pictures with them and, in turn, blackmails or threatens to share the content without their consent if they aren’t paid or sent more content. Threats can come from an ex-partner, friend, or an internet user who is privy to the private information of a victim.

Sextortion is also used to describe abuse of power, a form of corruption where people in positions of power use their authority to demand sexual favours from their subordinates in return for something that is within their power to give or withhold, such as promotion, deployment, school grades, employment, etc.

Forms of Sextortion

  1. Revenge Porn/Non-Consensual Sharing of Private Material: This involves the threat to share private photos or videos of a victim publicly. These images or videos are often obtained consensually during a relationship but used maliciously after a breakup.
  1. Video chat Blackmail: This involves tricking victims into performing sexual acts or sharing explicit content during video chats, recording without the victim’s knowledge and then threatening to share if demands aren’t met.
  1. Social Media apps/ dating/gaming sites: This involves manipulating victims through these platforms. Perpetrators befriend individuals, gain their trust, and then coerce them into sending compromising photos or videos. Once they have the material, they threaten to expose it unless their demands are met.
  1. Phishing Scams: Scammers may send emails pretending to be from legitimate sources. They claim to have compromising material on the victim and demand payment to prevent its release.
  1. Impersonation: This involves perpetrators pretending to be someone the victim knows, such as a friend or family member, and threatening to share compromising material unless their demands are met.

How can we help victims of sextortion?

First, it is important to explain the dangers of communicating with strangers online and sending private or inappropriate images or videos to anyone online. Sharing one’s private materials can be dangerous.

Secondly, limit access to specific applications, especially by teenagers, monitor who they communicate with, and adjust their privacy settings on their phones and apps while letting them know you are doing all that to keep them safe until they are wise enough to make more informed decisions.

Lastly, it is essential to help victims seek justice. Sextortion is a serious crime that involves sexual coercion, breach of trust, child pornography, computer hacking, sexual assault, threat, extortion, etc. It is important to know which of these the offender is guilty of and bring them to book. It is also vital to treat the victim with caution and reassure them of their worth to avoid making rash decisions against themselves, as such events could lead to loss of self-esteem and other harmful actions against one’s self.

What do I do if I encounter a potential sextortionist?

Once you come across an individual who begins to ask for private videos or pictures from you in return for a favour or relationship, that is your cue to stop communicating with them as they might be a sextortionist. 

Do not send private videos/pictures of yourself to strangers or someone you are in a relationship with. If possible, don’t keep explicit pictures or videos on your phone because it is possible for people to hack into your phone to get information to blackmail you. Whatever you do, stay safe on the internet and only make decisions that do not cause you any discomfort.


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