Someone has threatened to share my nudes. What do I do now?
This can be a distressing experience, but there is support out there
Nudes are photos of someone who is fully or partially naked. Some people take nudes as a way to express their sexual thoughts and feelings and share them with someone they’re dating or flirting with, or a partner.
Even when you’re sharing images with someone you trust, things can go wrong. The person you sent them to might start threatening to share these photos of you online out of anger or for another reason, or they could be forwarded on to friends. It’s a damaging, unfair betrayal of trust and a terrible thing to do to someone.
In other cases, the wrong person might get their hands on your photos and try to blackmail you - this is sometimes referred to as “sextortion” and is illegal.
What to do if someone has threatened to share your nudes
If you find yourself in a situation where someone is threatening to share intimate images of you, it can be a very traumatic experience.
Above all, it’s important to look after yourself. This could be a very stressful time. Unfortunately, you are not the first person to go through something like this.
If you do find yourself in this situation, here are some steps to take.
Although this can be a very upsetting time, try your best not to panic.
You might feel upset and betrayed, and it could be hard for you to figure the situation out. However, remember you are not at fault. Someone else broke your trust, and that is on them. You are not a bad person just for expressing your sexuality.
Talk to someone
If you have someone who you trust and feel comfortable opening up to, such as a parent, sibling, or a youth worker, reach out to them. You might feel embarrassed, but talking to someone will help. They might be able to provide you with support and advice.
You can also consider reaching out to a mental health professional, such as a counsellor. They can talk through what happened with you, help you to find ways to cope when you are feeling overwhelmed, and support you as you deal with the situation.
If your images are being shared around a school or college, you can report it to a teacher, a student affairs officer, or your Student Union. It’s important they know what’s going on so they can help you deal with the situation and take action.
Keep a record of their communication
Write down as much information as you can about the threat or multiple threats. If they have threatened you over text, make sure to take screenshots as evidence.
If someone overheard or saw the person threatening you, take note of their name and contact details. They could be a witness if you decide to take legal action.
Take legal action
Threatening someone is a form of harassment, which is a crime. You can report it to the Gardaí, and they will be able to guide you through the process.
After you file a report, you usually make an appointment a few days later to give a statement. The Gardaí will then investigate the crime based on what’s in the statement.
Once the investigation wraps up, the prosecutor will decide whether the case is strong enough to go to court.
When deciding whether or not to take legal action, talk to the people around you, such as a parent, a youth worker, or a mental health professional. Make sure to continue to look after yourself as you consider your options.
Find out more about what to do if your nudes are shared online.
Should I talk to the person?
You might feel the need to immediately reply to the person who is threatening you, and ask them to stop. Remember each situation is different. If the person threatening you is a stranger, it might be best to report them, but not to reply.
If the person is an ex or someone you know, ask yourself what could be gained by talking to them. If you feel comfortable going to them and asking them to stop or take the picture down, you can do so. However, don’t feel like this is something you have to do - you can just report it without contacting them directly.
Do what’s best for you, and remember to look after yourself.
My nudes were shared online
If they have tagged you in the post, untag yourself and report it to the social media platform so the site can take it down. You can also contact Google to remove the images from search results.
You can also report it to the Gardaí and a similar process will be set in motion if you reported the threat.
Continue to reach out for support. Share how you are feeling with people you trust, and keep reminding yourself that is not your fault.
Ireland now has laws that make sharing or threatening to share someone's nudes without their consent a crime. The punishment for this crime includes:
- An unlimited fine and/or up to seven years in prison if you meant to cause harm to the victim by sharing or threatening to share their nudes without their consent
- A maximum €5,000 fine and/or up to 12 months in prison if you did not mean to cause harm by sharing or threatening to share someone's nudes without their consent
These laws apply even if the person initially gave consent for the picture to be taken, but they were later shared with other people without their consent.
Under the age of 18
Remember, if you are under 18, a sexual image of you will be considered child exploitation material. This means that you and the person you send it too could be in some very serious trouble.
Having a sexual picture or video of someone under 18 years of age, and sending that picture to other people, is illegal and can lead to criminal prosecution. Penalties can include jail time, a fine, and being added to the sex offenders register for at least two and a half years.
Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
If you are a customer of the 48 network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 0861800280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’