Sextortion, also known as webcam blackmail, is a form of intimate image abuse.

It involves the threat of sharing images or videos – often ‘nudes’ or sexually explicit content – to extort money or force someone to do something against their will. (Extort means to gain something by force, threats or other unfair means.)

If you’ve experienced sextortion, you are not to blame, it is not your fault and you are not alone.

Sextortion is a form of blackmail, and it’s a growing crime.

Perpetrators may use fake identities to befriend victims online. They’ll manipulate, coerce or threaten a victim to send intimate videos or images, or record sexual content without their consent or knowledge during an online sexual exchange via webcam/the camera on a device.

They then use the images and videos to blackmail their victim, demanding further sexual content or money.

They often threaten to share the images or footage with the person’s friends, family and other contacts. They may also threaten to share online and via social media.

Perpetrators can be individuals. However they’re often part of an organised criminal gang, and may be operating from outside of the UK.

While anyone can be targeted, men are especially affected.

In 2022, 31% of all cases reported to the Revenge Porn Helpline were sextortion cases. Of these, 92% of victims of sextortion identified as male.

Young people and young adults are also at greater risk.

If you’re a victim please know this was not your fault and you’re not to blame. You have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. Support is available – you are not alone.

Everyone who experiences sextortion will react differently. However, due to the nature of this crime, common reactions can include feelings often felt for other forms of sexual violence such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, self-blame, and humiliation.

Experiencing sextortion, or any sort of image-based abuse, can be extremely distressing.

It’s common to experience a range of feelings and emotions that can affect your physical, mental and emotional health.

You may:

  • experience interruptions to your sleep and thought processes.
  • feel stressed, experience low mood, low self-esteem or anxiety.
  • feel unsafe, as you may be unsure who has seen the images of you.
  • be fearful the images may be shared somewhere else in the future.

You may feel unable to seek help due to the personal nature of this crime. Please know you’re not to blame, and you don’t have to deal with this alone. At Victim Support, we’ll listen with compassion and never judge you. It’s your right to seek the support you’re entitled to.

If you’re struggling to cope, or having thoughts about ending your life, please seek help urgently. If it’s an emergency, please call 999. You can call Samaritans on 116 123 or Childline on 0800 1111. You can also text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258, or if you’re 25 or under text ‘THEMIX’ to 85258, for support via the crisis messenger text service.

If someone has posted sexual images or videos of you online, you can report the perpetrator to the websites/social media platforms and ask them to remove the content. The website Report Harmful Content lists the most commonly used social networking sites and how to contact them.

If you’ve been a victim of crime, you’ll need to decide whether or not to tell the police. If you’re unsure, we have more information about reporting a crime and what happens afterwards.

Remember, we can support you whether you decide to involve the police or not.

If you choose to report your experience, you can do this in several ways:

  • If it’s an emergency, call 999 and ask for the police.
  • If it’s not an emergency, you can report sextortion to the police by calling 101. You can also go to your local police station to report the crime there.
  • If you want to report the crime anonymously you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or report online.
  • If you’re under 18, you can also report sextortion to the police on the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) website.

If you’re being threatened or blackmailed, try to stay calm and don’t panic. There are things you can do and people who can help you.

  • Don’t pay them any money: or if you’ve sent money, don’t send any more. The perpetrator is likely to demand even higher amounts from you. And if you pay, there’s no guarantee the threats will stop, or they won’t post or share the images/videos.
  • Don’t meet any other demands: for example, sending further images or videos. They will likely keep threatening you and demanding more from you.
  • Stop all communication, and block and report them: the perpetrator is likely to be targeting many people at the same time. If they’re not able to contact you or threaten you, they’re likely to give up and move on to other victims. If the perpetrator has posted sexual images or videos of you online, you can report them to the websites/social media platforms and ask the sites to remove the content.
  • Gather evidence: keep all messages you’ve received from the perpetrator. Take screen shots of any threatening messages they’ve sent, and any information they’ve given you such as bank details, email addresses, phone numbers and their profile information. (This could help the police if you decide to report.)
  • Confide in someone you trust: talking to someone about what you’re going through can help. If you don’t feel able to talk to a friend, family member or someone else you trust, consider seeking help from a support service, such as Victim Support or the Revenge Porn Helpline.

Here are a few things you can do which might help you feel safer online:

  • Review your privacy settings on social media or other online accounts.
  • Consider making your accounts private, or restricting who can see the content you post.
  • Be aware of the risks: having intimate video calls or sharing personal images isn’t bad or wrong. Just be aware of the risks: how well do you really know this person, and can you really trust they’re who they say they are?
  • If you do send an image to someone, consider using the Stop Non-Consensual Intimate Image Abuse (StopNCII) tool to prevent your images being shared online.

You have a right to say no: if things are moving too quickly, if you feel uncomfortable in doing anything they ask, or if they’re pressurising you to do something, your no should be listened to and respected.

You can access support at any point to talk through your concerns or feelings in a way that works for you.

When you report a crime to the police, they should automatically ask if you’d like help from an organisation like Victim Support. But anyone affected by crime can contact us directly – you don’t need to talk to the police to get our help.

You can get in touch by:

You can also create a free account on My Support Space – an online resource with interactive guides (including a guide on sextortion) to help you manage the impact crime has had on you.

If English is not your first language and you’d like support, call our Supportline and let us know which language you speak. We’ll call you back with an interpreter as soon as possible. We also welcome calls via Relay UK and SignLive (BSL).

Families and friends affected by crime can also contact us for support and information. If you’re a child or young person under 18 and are looking for support, visit our children and young people website for information.

Further support and information: