Anyone can become a victim of sextortion, and it is important to know that it is a criminal offence to distribute or threaten to distribute an intimate image or video of someone without their consent.
What is Sextortion?
Sextortion is a form of cyber-extortion which involves a threat to share intimate content such as images or video clips without an individual’s consent. Sextortion can occur when intimate content is shared with an individual online, who then threatens to publicly distribute the images or videos if their demands are not met. They may threaten to share the content publicly on social media, or to send it to an individual’s friends, family, or workplace. Oftentimes they will demand money (sometimes in the form of bitcoin or gift vouchers), but they may use other forms of blackmail such as demands for an individual to share more intimate content with them.
What is “intimate content”?
Intimate content refers to any images or videos of:
Intimate content can also include intimate information, texts, or recordings.
Oftentimes, perpetrators of this type of crime are quite sophisticated, and their intentions may not always be evident from the start. However, there are a few common warning signs to look out for:
If you have been a victim:
If you have been a victim of sextortion, it is first important for you to know that you are not alone – it happens to many people of all backgrounds; it is an offence; and there is support available to you. There are steps that you can take:
You can also make a report to an online reporting facility Hotline.ie who will work with the online platform where intimate content has been shared without someone’s consent in order to have the material removed.
Oftentimes victims feel as though they are to blame and as such are reluctant to report these incidents or seek support. The shame is not yours to carry – it lies solely with the perpetrators of these offences. It is a crime and there is support available.
If you have been a victim of sextortion or would like any further information or support, please reach out to the Crime Victims Helpline by free phoning 116 006.
Further information and the online reporting facility can be found at Hotline.ie.