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Cyberbullying And Sexting

Sexting and cyberbullying

As sexting continues to grow in popularity, so do the risks that accompany it. Although cyberbullying isn’t a direct consequence of sexting, reported incidents of people’s lives being ruined following the distribution of personal or explicit images has become more common – especially among young people and teenagers.

Although incidents of sexting related cyberbullying are far more common at high school age (partly due to the speed in which images can be shared and the way young people use social media), it is not uncommon for adults to be affected too. In some circumstances, for adults, having sexually explicit images of themselves becoming public can be even worse than that for teenagers – sexting doesn’t just ruin reputations, it can ruin lives too.

Explore the information below to learn more about the relationship between cyberbullying and sexting as well as what to do if you are being cyberbullied in relation to sexting or explicit images.


Sextortion is a combination of the two separate words ‘sex’ and ‘extortion’ and is used to describe a damaging form of sexual exploitation. Most commonly, the act of sextortion is when someone receives or acquires sexually explicit or compromising images from the victim and uses them as a weapon to blackmail them into committing further sexual acts, online or offline which they would not normally feel comfortable doing.

In order to “sextort” the victim, the perpetrator may threaten the victim with the promise of distributing the images to social media platforms or sharing them with friends and family of the victim unless they are willing to do what they ask them to do. This can make the victim feel helpless and pressured to abide with the offender’s requests. Sextortion has been linked to numerous suicides around the world.

Examples of sexting related cyberbullying

  • Slut shaming – Once an image, screenshot or video is distributed on social media, it can be seen by huge numbers of people in a very short period of time. If explicit images or videos are seen by the victim’s peers – this could lead to them being “slut-shamed” and can also potentially attract unwanted and possibly predacious attention, putting the victim in danger.
  • Distributing images without consent – Most cell phones and computers are now able to take screenshots and videos. If somebody screenshots a sexually explicit or compromising image and shares it with others, online or offline, it could result in humiliation for the victim.
  • Altering images to further expose or humiliate – Some online platforms or downloadable apps make it possible for someone to manipulate or disfigure an image. Commonly, apps and software like this are used to ‘touch-up’ images or selfies, but with a basic understanding of the editing procedure – they are used to alter a sexually explicit image of someone with the purpose of humiliating the sender of the image. Once the image has been manipulated, it can be uploaded to social media as a meme or shared between friends to cause embarrassment and to further harass the victim.

What to do if you are being cyberbullied because of sexting

We know how painful cyberbullying is, and how it can feel as though there is no way out – but there is. Use the tips below to avoid sexting related cyberbullying problems and to deal effectively with your cyberbullying situation. For further information, check out our list of useful organizations or visit the Total Access Support area of our website to learn more about the various ways we can help you with your sexting problem.

  • Confide in someone – When going through something like this, it important to build up a support network. If you’re a young person or teenager, you could speak to a teacher you trust or your parent – they will be able to help you and advise you. If you are an adult, talk to a friend you trust or an advice service.
  • Use online tools – If there is a sexually explicit image of you online or you are being digitally abused because of sexting, use your blocking, reporting and filtering tools that are provided on most of the major social media platforms. If the content is in breach of the platform’s policies, the content or account could be removed.
  • Legal options – If you are being blackmailed, threatened, sextorted or there is sexually explicit content of you online without your permission, it could be in violation of the law.
  • Be conscious – It is important to be mindful of how much ‘data’ is openly accessible when using social media. Always make sure you are only showing as much as you want to show by checking your privacy settings and the people you are friends with online.
  • Do you trust them? – When talking to someone online, it can be easy to feel like you can trust them and share anything with them, including intimate images or messages, but always be mindful of how well you know the person you are sending them to – make sure you really can trust them before pressing send.