You may already know that extortion is a criminal act where the offender uses blackmail, intimidation, or threats to force someone into doing something for them, such as give them money. In today’s digital age, an act similar to extortion, called sextortion, has become more and more common.
Sextortion an act of sexual exploitation where the offender abuses their power or authority and uses threats, guilt or coercion to force the victim into producing sexual videos or images of them engaging in sexual acts, having sex, or performing sexual favors.
In some cases, the offender may already have sensitive information about the victim or nude or sexual images, or videos of the victim and may threaten to release them if the victim does not comply with their demands. Offenders tend to target their victims through social media, webcams, or dating apps.
Sextortion and Social Media
When it comes to sextortion, the perpetrator will usually build up a trusting relationship with the victim online through social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, or Skype. Once the perpetrators have established trust with the victim, they will persuade the victim to send nude or sexual pictures or videos.
After they obtain these photos, the blackmailer will threaten to post the photos on social media platforms or porn websites, forcing the victim to continue sending sexual images or videos to meet their demands.
In addition to building trust and coercing sexual images and videos from victims, sextortionists will also hack into a victim’s personal computer and steal compromising information and threaten to release it unless the victim sends them sexual images or videos.
What Should You Do if you are a Victim of Sextortion?
If you are a victim of sextortion, you may be feeling ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid to take action. It is important to remember that you do not deserve what has happened to you and that you are not to blame. If you are a victim of sextortion, there are several resources available to help you. Here are a few steps you can take:
- Stop all contact with the perpetrator and be sure to block them from all apps and social media pages.
- Secure your accounts by changing passwords.
- Keep a record of all communication with the perpetrator.
- Tell someone you trust such as a friend or family member.
- Report it to the local police.
These types of abusers rely on their victims remaining quiet so that they can continue their abuse, so it is important to inform a close friend or family member as well as the police if you’ve become a victim of sextortion.
Sextortion Legislation in Pennsylvania
The act is currently recognized as a form of sexual assault and is a criminal offense in states such as:
In September 2018, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Bill 1134 48-0. This bill, introduced by Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), would make sextortion a criminal act. After the bill passed the Pennsylvania Senate, it has moved on the House for consideration on October 1st, 2018.
This bill was brought forth by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) as part of their efforts to end sextortion. This bill would provide an update to current laws and making them more applicable to today’s digital age.
Without legislation like this, victims are left without the proper resources or channels to protect themselves from these crimes or provide them with the justice they deserve. For more information on this legislation and other Pennsylvania laws regarding sex crimes, visit the PCAR website today.
Get Involved to End Cyber Sexual Harassment
At 50 Shades of Silence, we provide support and resources to victims of cyber harassment and other online crimes and work to give them a voice. Join the movement today to help advocate for change and protection for victims of cyber harassment.