What is sexting?
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of sexting before. Sexting is when sexual content like videos, nude pictures, or sexy messages are shared using text, Whatsapp, other online services or social networks. There are different reasons why someone might sext; it could be because you feel confident in your body, you did it as a dare or you thought there wouldn’t be any harm in sending it to someone you trust. You should not feel pressured to send a sext. If you do feel pressured, you might want to talk to someone you trust about it, and say no if you’re not comfortable.
What if I’m just sending it to someone I trust?
It’s great that you trust the person you’re sending it to! Trust is the foundation of a good relationship. However, sometimes unexpected things happen, such as a break up or fight that might cause the other person to share your sexts. Their social networks could be hacked or their phone could be stolen, and that may cause your sexts to be shared as well. If someone shares your photo, it could spread quickly and your family or friends may also see it, along with a ton of strangers. If you do want to engage in sexting, here are some tips to do it safely:
- Do you want to show your face or other features you can be identified by? This is important because you don’t have to show your face and it would limit anyone recognizing you if a picture message got leaked. If you have tattoos, piercings, birthmarks, etc. these things can also be used to identify you.
- Think about how you’re sending the sext. Are you using your own phone, tablet, or laptop? Sending the message via an encrypted messaging service (i.e. iMessage or WhatsApp) will prevent someone from intercepting your message. But the person receiving your sext can still make copies or share it.
- Consider when you’re doing this. If you’re sending out messages in the middle of the school or work day, you risk having someone accidentally sneaking a peak over your shoulder. It might be better to wait until you’re in a more comfortable and private space.
What’s the worst that could happen?
In the worst case scenario, your sexts may be shared with people you didn’t intend to see it. You may feel ashamed or embarrassed that people saw a very personal part of you, and it could make others around you view you in a negative way. Victims who have had their sexts shared without permission have a high risk of embarrassment, as well having less trust in the relationships of people around them.
My messages got leaked… What do I do?
Sharing sexts without the original sender’s clear consent is always wrong, no matter the circumstance. If you are unsure what consent is, you can read up on it on our consent and sexual safety section.
You won’t be charged for sending a sext, even if you’re under 18 (unless you’re doing it to harass someone.) But sharing a sext without the original sender’s consent is illegal, no matter how old the person in the photo is (Criminal Code 162.1). If the person in the sext is under 18 you could also be charged with distributing child pornography.
If you find yourself in a situation and you need to get a photo or video off the internet, take a deep breath. Ask the person you initially sent them to to delete the messages and watch them do it. There are steps you can take to take to have the video or picture taken down on different social media. You should also report it.
If you are unsure if what other people are seeing, you can also search for yourself online to see what comes up. If you want to have a more positive online identity there are things you can do. The more good stuff you add, the lower down on the list the bad stuff may be on a search. Some ways to do that are:
- Make positive comments on videos, articles, blogs
- Start your own blog and write a few positive posts
- Engage positively in public comment sections
Sometimes, it is impossible to delete everything online. Plan what you will say if someone asks about something they have seen about you online. Some examples of what you can say are:
“I’ve learned from it.”
“I’ve moved on.”
“Everyone makes mistakes.”
Sexting can be fun and flirty, but it also has risks that you should carefully consider before sending anything.