In the US, there are victim advocates in county offices, police stations, domestic violence prevention centers, rape crisis centers, sheriff’s offices, and offices of state attorneys general.
Victim advocates can help you gather evidence, put together a safety plan (figure out how to keep you safe from what’s being threatened), and/or get a civil protection or anti-stalking order against the person threatening you.
They need to know that, if you took the photos and they report them to the police, they could potentially cause criminal charges to be brought against the people involved. The same is true if the person is threatening to share photos of you for money or sex (“sextortion”): If you’re under 18, think through carefully who you tell. In many jurisdictions, school personnel, legal advisers and law enforcement people are required by law to report potential victimization of minors, which means that even talking with them about a “hypothetical” case could involve the person seeking advice in a criminal investigation.
So in situations involving someone under 18, a good start might be seeking advice anonymously (see the first option below).
When someone uses pressure or coercion to get nude or sexually explicit photos from another person, that’s usually a form of sexual harassment.
Young people need to see that pressure for what it is – that it’s inherently disrespectful and abusive, that they owe themselves the self-respect that prevents this victimization, and that there are laws against it in many jurisdictions.
But it can definitely be a form of victimization either from the outset or after a break-up or conflict in a relationship.
These two types of victimization, premeditated and reactive, are what education about sexting’s risks needs to focus on: * Sexting as sexual harassment.
However, although there have been some highly publicized cases, prosecution of minors for distribution of sexting photos has been relatively rare in the US.
If you’re under age 18, child sexual exploitation and child pornography law can also come into play.
Careful thought needs to go into the handling of cases involving minors because laws involving teens – particularly child-pornography statutes – haven’t caught up with digital technology.
“Sexting” typically refers to sex-related or nude photos taken and shared via cellphone (most sexting happens on phones and doesn’t make it to the Web, according to research in the medical journal Pediatrics).
Some experts say sexting can also be just sexually explicit text.