How to prevent sextortion or sexual blackmail

How to prevent sextortion or sexual blackmail

Tips to prevent sextortion .

According to Sexuality Research and Social Policy , 28% of Spanish adults surveyed send images or videos with erotic or sexual content, that is, they practice sexting .

“One in four Spanish adults practices sexting.”

As already explained in the previous post, this new sexual practice is considered risky due to the potential danger of violation of privacy and the possible psychological consequences of it.

In order to inform about the advantages and disadvantages of sexting, this post has collected a series of tips to prevent possible sextortion in case of deciding to perform sexting :

Do not practice it with strangers or feeling pressured into it .

Like all sexual practices, it must be consensual and must not be done out of fear of rejection or under duress. Therefore, before starting to have sexting with someone, it is necessary to assess the risks without rushing into the decision and analyze if that person would be able to ensure the privacy of both when the time comes.

When sexting with a stranger, it is most likely that he is a sexually active person who usually receives these types of messages, so he has been able to assume that his messages will be seen by others and do the same with others .

“We must assess whether the recipient of the images will be able to protect the privacy of both.”

On the other hand, it is advisable to ensure that the message is sent to the correct recipient to prevent uncomfortable or even criminal situations.

Agree in advance the conditions .

Apart from making sure that the person wants to receive this type of content (eg they may be at work or in a meeting with friends), it is essential to manage the channel and the content that will be used.

In this sense, it is advisable to agree to delete the images once the conversation has ended , including screenshots.  It is also convenient to agree not to share them with third parties.

In addition, it is preferable to send images of reciprocal sexual content so as not to feel so exposed to possible blackmail.

In case you decide to save the images -which is not advisable-, in addition to agreeing on the time and type of images to save, it is important to save them in a folder with a password.

“It is convenient to delete the shared material, images or videos, once the conversation is over.”

Also, avoid uploading the images to the Cloud . Bear in mind that services such as WhatsApp, Google Photos or iCloud automatically save all images, so it is convenient to disable the automatic storage of photos.

Use safe media to avoid sextortion .

It is advisable to use communication channels where your own identity is not so exposed. For this it may be useful:

  • Create an alternative email account or a social network that is not used on a regular basis.
  • Likewise, platforms whose content is encrypted , such as Signal or Telegram , should be chosen .

Use secure and encrypted apps to prevent sextortion.

  • Try to find applications with privacy agreements that do not include keeping content or data. Facebook and Twitter are not recommended applications in this regard, while others such as Skype and Hangouts offer a moderate level of security.
  • To prevent sextortion, it is preferable to use a mobile phone rather than a computer .
  • It should be noted that Signal allows you to set a self-destruct time for messages, set a password to conversations and prevents screen captures from being taken.
  • Telegram or Instagram allow you to capture a secret chat or an image that can only be seen once, although it alerts the other member of the conversation.
  • On the other hand, when you are sexting with multiple people, adding watermarks could help you figure out who shared the content.
  • Obviously, updating and checking the absence of malware on both devices before starting and avoiding the use of public Wi-Fi networks during sexting is one way to prevent the intervention of possible hackers.

Do not include information with which you can be identified .

It may seem obvious, but just as it is not necessary to send a full-body photograph (including the face), it is not necessary to send an image that includes recognizable body parts (tattoos, scars or birthmarks).

“It is convenient to avoid sending images by which one can be identified.”

It is also important to pay attention to the content of the image (eg, do not pose in a recognizable area of ​​the house)

Geolocation or geotagging should also be avoided , as they provide a physical location that can help a potential stalker to locate the future victim (eg school, address, etc.).

Since each image taken with the mobile phone includes this type of information , the data must be erased through the computer (by selecting “erase information” in tools) or using applications such as Photo Investigador.

How to prevent sexting and sextortion in minors.

How to prevent sexting and sextortion in minors.

The practice of sexting exposes its users to the risk of sexual blackmail. The danger of sextortion is greater in minors due to their lack of experience, ignorance of the risks and greater impulsiveness. For this reason, it is the mission of parents and educators to minimize risks with prevention guidelines such as those set out below:

Provide information on sexuality and the use of technologies.

In the first place, it is essential to make minors aware of the implications and risks of not protecting their privacy when participating in this practice (around 14% send messages of sexual content).

Information must be provided on how to proceed when sending non-consensual sexual content (approximately 27% of adolescents receive it and 12% forward it without consent).

It is important to make the adolescent aware that once files have been sent, they remain on the network and on the recipient’s devices, which can easily make them a victim of sextortion. S accordin Chilean Journal of Pediatrics , about 7% of children had received threats in this way .

“Once a file has been sent, the minor can become a victim of sexual blackmail.”

Teenagers are easy victims of sexual blackmail.

On the other hand, it is essential to emphasize to the minor that, although a third of the population has had sexual relations with people they had met through social networks , establishing contact with an unknown person carries great risks, so it is not recommendable.

“Sexting with a stranger implies taking great risks of suffering sexual blackmail.”

According to the Chilean Journal of Pediatrics , around 15% of minors acknowledge having had contact with an adult who was hiding their true identity .

Control parental.

In this sense, it should be remembered that, although the minor has been educated in digital responsibility, his inexperience and naivety can lead him to make mistakes. For this reason, it is convenient to use some type of parental control to filter sensitive content and configure the privacy of the minor’s applications or social networks, taking into account their level of maturity.

It is also important to check the Wifi network to prevent sensitive content from the devices being stolen.

Educate in values.

The increase in this tendency to meet sexual partners through the internet is not only due to the ease of access, but also to the prevailing hedonism in today’s society, which encourages people to seek to carry out their pleasurable impulses without considering the possible consequences.

Thus, the desire to awaken sexual interest in the other in order to feel attractive and capture their attention makes sexting a tool with which to achieve social validation and increase self-esteem by adapting to a normalized hypersexualized environment in which sexual awakening and the exploration of one’s own sexuality, together with the minimization of risks inherent to age, give rise to risky situations.

“Sexting can be used as a form of social validation.”

Regarding the factors that prevent sexting , Anales de Psicología published that the development of values ​​prevented these behaviors.

Promote self-esteem.

For this reason, fostering the development of self-esteem and social skills of the minor can help them to be able to face social pressure without giving in to it due to the need for acceptance of others.

Insecurity is a risk factor for behaviors in which social approval is sought through beauty, self-asserting through sexuality.

In this sense, it is important to clarify to the minor the possible erroneous ideas that they may have about love, sexuality and the obligatory nature of beauty, promoting a critical vision about the prevailing social pressures in society (eg those related to sexuality).

Other factors

L to depression, impulsiveness, vulnerability, extraversion (especially thrill – seeking) and low responsibility significantly predicted behaviors sexting . Likewise, boys tended to perform more sexting than girls, especially when they abused alcohol as regular consumers of online pornography ( Sexuality Research and Social Policy ).

Sexting occurs more in boys who consume alcohol and pornography.

Increase communication and trust with the child.

The minor may show doubts about how to face his sexuality, so it is necessary that he find in his parents (or in another adult figure) a person with whom he can speak freely and be able to ask for help despite the fear or shame that may feel sorry for the mistake made.

“In a case of sexual blackmail, the minor must have a trusted adult to whom he can turn.”

It is important to urge the minor not to participate in the forwarding of this sexual content. He should be encouraged to report them, reminding him that the one who has acted improperly is the broadcaster , since he has done so without consent, and that the victim does not deserve to be humiliated and blamed for it.

What to do if your child is a victim of sextortion .

In a case of sextortion,  parents must be clear about how to proceed:

Focus on finding solutions and not on judging the child.

It is important to bear in mind that the minor is going through a complicated situation and that it will certainly be very embarrassing.

It is time to support and protect the minor, not to reproach him for his behavior, since dramatizing the situation will not only not help to resolve it, but it will possibly make the minor regret having shared it with the adult.

It should not be forgotten that the minor is the victim .

Contact the broadcasters and inform the service provider.

Reminding broadcasters and recipients of the content that the dissemination of images of a sexual nature without the explicit consent of the person involved is a crime may discourage those involved from distributing said images and remove the content.

It is important to inform the service provider of the need to remove this content, since, even if someone may have made a copy, this will limit its dissemination.

Report the situation. 

This is especially important in extortion and grooming cases. It is recommended to take screenshots and save all the evidence of what happened.

On the other hand, contacting the educational center can be very useful not only in the search for diffusers, but in awareness-raising and prevention efforts so that the situation does not recur in the future, promoting the development of a rapid intervention protocol and forceful in this type of case.

Seek psychological support. 

The consequences of this type of practice can lead to loss of trust in others by feeling humiliated and ashamed.

It can also lower the victim’s self-esteem and undermine their psychological well-being by feeling guilty for what happened, perceiving disappointment from their family and seeing themselves socially isolated.

All of this could lead to certain mental pathologies such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse or even self-injurious behaviors, thus requiring the help of a professional.

“The consequences of sextortion can be serious and lead to other pathologies, even suicide.”

Sextortion can lead to other pathologies.

Sexting : how to differentiate a habit from an addiction?

Sexting : how to differentiate a habit from an addiction?

The sexting may arise as a natural demonstration and sporadic sexuality. Thus, according to a study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking , around 12% of marriages send photographs or videos to each other.

However, at times, sexting can become an addiction due to the high degree of instant, easy and accessible pleasure it offers , without space-time limitations. According to Clinical Psychology Review , only 12-25% use it sporadically.

In this way, the accessibility to fulfill one’s sexual desires can lead to the person using their electronic devices in a compulsive and dangerous way, being able to lose control over the content or the person who receives it.

Likewise, you may not be aware of the repercussions it is having on your life: reduced leisure time, decreased circle of friends, deterioration in academic performance, etc.

“Over time, the person needs to increase this practice to achieve the same level of pleasure . 

Psychological guidelines to overcome addiction to sexting .

  • Identify and recognize that you have an addiction : Unfortunately, there are not a few people with addictions who are not fully aware of the relevance of the disorder or who even deny it. This is a defense mechanism addicts employ to avoid making changes to their new and damaging lifestyle. For this reason, it is important to reflect on the effects that addiction has had on one’s life and that it may have in the long term (for example, damaging one’s reputation on the internet).

“The first and fundamental step is to recognize the addiction to sexting.”

  • Avoid what makes it easier to continue with the addiction : Eliminating all the applications or programs that trigger the addiction is a necessary and vital step in this type of addiction. Obviously, it is advisable to stop having contact with those whose only link is practicing sexting .
  • Cultivating other vital areas : Setting new goals and doing healthy activities that occupy that time that was previously used in addiction makes it easier to avoid falling into it. Thus, encouraging physical activity and cultivating friendships can be time-consuming while maintaining a positive mood.

“Physical exercise and physical contact with friends helps overcome dependency.”

It may be necessary to go to the psychologist to overcome the addiction to sexting.

  • Consult with a psychologist : The specialist can help detect what factors trigger this behavior and provide different tools that promote impulse control (eg relaxation techniques), as well as work on emotional areas that may be related to addiction (p eg emotional dependence, low self-esteem or lack of assertiveness).
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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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