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Extortion victimizes someone by demanding money, property, sex, or some other “service” from the person and threatening to harm him or her if the demand isn’t met.

When digital photos are involved, the harm being threatened is often extreme embarrassment or loss of reputation through exposure or distribution of the person’s photos.

* Contacting a crisis hotline or chat service, online or via phone.

These can be found all over the US and in many other countries.

The practice is not illegal when photos are shared between consenting adults, but when minors are involved, sexual-exploitation and child-pornography laws can come into play, so great care is needed in the handling of sexting cases involving people under 18.

However, although there have been some highly publicized cases, prosecution of minors for distribution of sexting photos has been relatively rare in the US.

But it can definitely be a form of victimization either from the outset or after a break-up or conflict in a relationship.

Victim advocates can help you gather evidence, put together a safety plan (figure out how to keep you safe from what’s being threatened), and/or get a civil protection or anti-stalking order against the person threatening you.Exposing or distributing very personal photos of someone without his or her consent is a violation of trust that can cause severe embarrassment, harm to a reputation, or other emotional hurt.Both those forms of victimization are what’s called “aggravated” (criminal or abusive) sexting by researchers at the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center.They need to know that, if you took the photos and they report them to the police, they could potentially cause criminal charges to be brought against the people involved. The same is true if the person is threatening to share photos of you for money or sex (“sextortion”): If you’re under 18, think through carefully who you tell. In many jurisdictions, school personnel, legal advisers and law enforcement people are required by law to report potential victimization of minors, which means that even talking with them about a “hypothetical” case could involve the person seeking advice in a criminal investigation.So in situations involving someone under 18, a good start might be seeking advice anonymously (see the first option below).

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