SEXTORTIONYUP. IT'S A THING.
It’s blackmail or threats to expose sexual images to get you to do something you don’t want to do, like send more photos or money.
Take control and stop responding.
If you’re asked to share something that makes you uncomfortable, you have a right to say no, even if you already shared something with them before. If they try to make you feel bad or threaten you, just remember: THEY are the ones who are doing something wrong.
Get help instead of paying money or otherwise complying with the blackmailer. Cooperating or paying rarely stops their threats.
Talk with someone you trust.
Addressing your feelings is important, and talking with people who care about you can help, like a close friend, teacher, counselor, or parent. Don’t know where to start? You can start a conversation like this:
“There’s something going on in my life that I need help with. I’m not sure who to talk to – if I tell you, can you help me figure out what to do?“
Though you may hesitate because the threats seem stronger than the benefit of resisting, here is evidence showing that resisting is usually ideal.
“Reaching out is the best thing you can do. The people around you want what is the best for you. They may be angry at first, but at the end, they will not love you any less… They might even gain some respect for your courage.“
– Female, 18, responding to Thorn survey
GET HELP. Text "THORN" to 741741
to confidentially speak with a trained counselor. They will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment and are trained to support people in crisis. Learn more about how it works here.
You can also reach out to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at or 1-800-THELOST. Explore more resources and ways to reach out for help.
Help A Friend
Start the conversation.
If your friend may be experiencing sextortion, share this with them:
“You need to know that if someone ever tries to use an intimate photo of you to get you to do something you don’t want to do – I will be here for you, I won’t judge you, and we will figure it out together.”
Offer support to your friend, and help them. Don’t take action on behalf of your friend. Let them decide what they want to do. Imagine how it would feel, and offer encouragement.
Support your friend in taking action.
If your friend is a target of sextortion, there are key steps they can take. And the best thing you can do is support them every step of the way.
The reason I didn’t want to speak up is because I was afraid of what the adults in my life might think of me. I thought it was all my fault and I figured that’s what they would tell me.
Female, 17, sextortion survivor
Tell someone you trust about the situation. It is a tough thing to go through alone, let alone dangerous. Especially since many of us are at a young age when we go through it, it’s wise to go through it with people older who can handle it with you.
Male, 14, sextortion survivor
You trusted someone and they let you down. Don't blame yourself.
Female, 17, sextortion survivor
Safety in the digital age is new. Chances are kids feel more comfortable navigating digital communities than adults, without knowing enough to stay safe. The following resources have been curated to help adults learn how to support kids.
For Your Friends