Clicking pictures, sending sexual texts and making memories out of private moments, has been a trend among adolescents and adults. The positive spectrum of it entails in forming emotional and intimate bonds; exploring sexual feeling and satisfying ones’ sexual curiosities. When viewed in a negative spectrum, it not only exposes one’s intimate feelings and sexual desires over a virtual setting but also leaves them vulnerable to sextortion and blackmailing. Cyber predators often consume this vulnerability by hacking and using of malicious viruses to invade digital devices like mobiles and laptops to steal private texts, sensual images and video clips. These stolen data are ill-used by malefactors as a bargaining chip to force the victims for sexual favours or demand financial benefits in return, leading to a kind of extortion, known as Sextortion.
Sexual Extortion or Sextortion is the act of blackmailing someone for sexual gain or using them in felonious acts to exact undue benefits, by threatening to publish one’s sexually explicit materials. These materials include sexy, compromising pictures or videos. Sextortion is impacting a vast number population. Lack of general awareness and anonymity of the blackmailer often make this criminal offence bypass law enforcement agencies, inducing financial as well as psychological traumas.
Due to the obscure nature of sextortion, researchers have found it difficult to understand the psychological ramification of this offence. But the life-changing consequences of sextortion are set to harm the mental health of the victim. Forceful demand of any sexual acts or any undue favours as terms of extortion is found to be very closely associated with the feeling of getting physically assault and emotionally abused. This often leaves the victim with a feeling of guilt, dishonoured and intimidated leading to excruciating sadness, stress and anxiety.
The victim of this sexual exploitation, coercion and violence are mostly female and young adolescents. As the nature of crime is related to the private life of the victim, many people who are attacked by dissemination of intimate or embarrassing pictures of sexual nature, do not report it because of shame, a disgrace to personal identity and family image. Many cases which are reported, go unacknowledged and unpursued. Due to this lack of recognition for the crime, victims can suffer from depression, low performance at work can inflict self-harm and in extreme cases, they can also commit suicide.
Seeing the exploitative nature of sextortion, it becomes necessary for the victims to consult law enforcement agencies and timely report these cybercrimes at the nearest police station. They need to be more aware of cyber laws and related cyber-crimes. The need for consulting a psychologist also becomes necessary to overcome the traumatic experience faced during and after sextortion.
Sextortion is highly prevalent, less-discussed and intensively exploitative. The substantial cost it incurs on a person’s mental health wellbeing and finances make it an important area of cyber-crime which need to research more. Awareness of sextortion and timely action against cyber-predators can be effective in dealing with one of the most silent forms of corruption and sexual abuse.
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