Sextortion, also known as webcam blackmail, is when intimate images and videos are recorded and used for financial exploitation and coercion. The perpetrator relies on the person to feel ashamed and give in to their demands. If you would like more information on what Sextortion is or what to do if you have been affected, you can access our advice page here.
We are reaching out to all adults, living in the UK, who have been affected by Sextortion to take part in our survey and help us understand more about this crime. We want to learn more about which platforms are targeted and the techniques used to obtain sexual content and extort money in this way. The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness about Sextortion and prevent more people from being affected by this violating crime in the future.
We have seen a huge rise in reports of Sextortion to the Revenge Porn Helpline. Reported cases doubled between 2020 and 2021 and current figures for this year suggest the rate is rising further. Although other forms of intimate image abuse predominantly affect women, our data shows that men are 5 times more likely to be affected by Sextortion. You can read our full report here.
Perpetrators of Sextortion are part of criminal gangs based overseas. They create 'catfish' type profiles and target people through dating websites and social media platforms. They are good at covering their tracks and remaining anonymous. The crime can be very malicious in nature and perpetrators will often make severe accusations to apply more pressure to extort money.
We have created the StopNCII.org platform which has helped many threatened with having their intimate content shared publicly over partnered platforms. Although this helps with the consequences of sextortion, it does not prevent the crime from occurring. We would like to create resources that may warn people about suspicious online behaviour and what to be aware of.
Part of the reason this crime is so common is that people may not be aware of it. Some people may feel too embarrassed to discuss what has happened to them. They may think they will be judged for sending the image or worry about their reputation if the image is shared. It is important to remember that like all forms of intimate image abuse, the person who shared the image is not to blame. Sharing an image with someone is not a crime. Threatening to share that image or using it to blackmail someone is a crime and people affected by this deserve non-judgemental support. If you have been affected by Intimate image abuse, it is important to reach out for emotional support. You can find a list of emotional support services on our website here.
This survey is for any adult living in the UK who has been affected by sextortion. It does not matter when the crime took place, we want to hear from you. The questions are about the types of platforms used, the support that is available and how to support others in the future. All comments will remain confidential and any demographic information will be anonymised. The survey can be accessed here.
Participants can choose to be involved in further research if they wish. This would take the form of an interview with a helpline practitioner. Again, all data would be anonymised and participants would not have to answer any questions they were not comfortable with. This research will advise us on the best ways of reaching people, what the campaign should look like and the most relevant advice and support. This campaign aims to get people talking, to share their experiences and educate others about staying safe online.