How Sexual Partner Abuse has Changed with Social Media
"Incidents involving threats to expose sexual images, or what media
are calling “sextortion,” are not new, but have evolved with social
In a large study
we recently did on the topic, we found that sextortion mostly involves
the classic dynamics of abusive relationships, or malicious online
seducers with a few digital-age twists....
In our study, we asked young people between the ages of 18 and 25 to
complete an online survey telling us their stories about sextortion, in
partnership with the nonprofit Thorn
and through ads on Facebook. We defined sextortion as threats to expose
sexual images in order to make a person do something or for other
reasons, such as revenge or humiliation.
Among the 1,631 respondents to the online survey, many gave harrowing
accounts about threats to send sexual images to parents, employers and
classmates. About half of the victims were youth under age 18. In many
cases, these images were originally entrusted willingly to intimate
partners. In other cases, they were coerced or even fabricated. The
perpetrators were mostly men targeting women and girls, but we also heard about sextortion within LGBTQ relationships."
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