What is Sextortion?
A type of blackmail used by offenders (that are almost always never in Canada), to acquire additional sexual content from a victim, coerce them into engaging in sexual activity, or to obtain money from the victim usually by threatening them to send an intimate image or video of you to friends, family, etc..
Definition of intimate image
(2) In this section, intimate image means a visual recording of a person made by any means including a photographic, film or video recording,
(a) in which the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts or is engaged in explicit sexual activity;
(b) in respect of which, at the time of the recording, there were circumstances that gave rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy; and
(c) in respect of which the person depicted retains a reasonable expectation of privacy at the time the offence is committed.
How it can happen
- Start talking on a social media application and get to know each other
- Move to another social media application to gain access to more information
- Request and/or receive sexual images since trust has been gained from the victim
- Demand more sexual images or money in exchange for not exposing these images
- Screenshot everything, block the person and report this to police and family right away
What you can do if it happens
- Screen shot conversations and the suspects profile and keep everything
- Immediately block and stop all communication
- Do not give in to threats, do not send more nudes or pay them money, they wont stop
- Get help from parents/teachers/another safe adult
- Report the suspect, on the app, or to Cybertip.ca
- Consider privatizing or suspending your social media for a bit
- Needhelpnow.ca to get help removing sexual images
Resources for help
Understanding how your child may be feeling
- Worry about their parents reaction
- Afraid of getting in trouble
- Worry about causing their family stress
- Worry about offline friends finding out
- Worry about being recognized by someone who has seen the pictures/videos
- Shame and humiliation
- Powerless and hopeless about the sharing of their pictures/videos online
- (or the risk that they may be shared at any time)
- Fear of receiving threats from the person of concern
- Fear of receiving unwanted contact from others online
What your child needs from you
- To know that they are not in trouble
- To hear from you that you aren’t angry with them
- To hear from you that you love them
- To know that you can handle what is happening and will support them
- To hear from you that you are sorry this happened to them and they're not alone
- To be treated as the person you know them to be, not as fragile or damaged
Steps for parents to help their child
Your unconditional love and support during this difficult and distressing time will help your child heal and move forward. It is important to avoid using this time for judgment, lectures, anger or catastrophizing the situation.
Reassure your child that s/he is safe and there is no problem or situation that you cannot get through together. Reassure your child that s/he is not alone and that you will be there to help her/him.
This may be a stressful time for the entire family. It can be helpful to seek guidance, support and assistance from a mental health professional that has expertise in trauma and working with people who have been exploited. A mental health professional will know how to best support your child and the family unit during this difficult time. Seek out such professionals (e.g. psychologists, social workers, counsellors, psychiatrists) or speak with your family physician for a referral.
Seek out resources to help you learn about trauma and how to support your child through her/his healing.
Youth who have experienced trauma can regain trust, confidence and hope. They have the ability to create a new “normal” and function within it. Help your child see the world as manageable, understandable and meaningful. The stronger the belief that things will become and stay better, the more significant the child’s recovery will be. Interestingly and importantly, hope is not just a feeling. The experience of hopefulness actually contributed to physiological chemical changes in the brain that calm fear and anger and allow for increased resiliency and healing.
When youth are going through a situation such as this, they may feel alone and powerless in their ability to control their own lives. In order to restore a sense of control, it is important to include your child in discussions about any next steps that include her/him and in decision making where appropriate.
Youth who have a trauma response can demonstrate difficulty regulating their mood as they can be flooded by emotions. Set realistic expectations and be patient with changes in mood. Examples of moody behaviour may include agitation, anger, sadness, clinginess and outbursts.
Stay calm and keep the environment low key. Be consistent and help your child understand, express and tolerate her/his strong emotions. S/he will get through it, reassure her/him that it will pass and it is just a feeling.
Help your child see the links between her/his thoughts and feelings. Help her/him understand how working on controlling her/his thinking can help control how s/he feels. Consider exploring new activities that will help manage her/his thinking and emotions, such as yoga, art, music, etc.
This should be done with flexibility and reduced consequences when rules are broken. Gently re-establish the boundaries.
Encourage and support your child to stay connected to family, friends, and activities that s/he previously enjoyed.
Help your child shape her/his experience to have more control over what comes next in her/his life. Be available to listen and to help shape your child’s beliefs of her/his life to understand that a negative experience doesn’t define who s/he is. Your child has control over writing her/his life story.
Be your child’s champion and work with professionals to help her/him recover from trauma. Help others to understand your child’s behaviour and reactions through a trauma lens so their expectations are realistic and their responses are supportive and caring.
To be effective, you must take care of yourself. Taking care of a child who has experienced trauma is very difficult, and it impacts the entire family. Make sure to take time to access the supports necessary for the entire family.