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 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 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 the person follows through with the threat and shares the images, make sure to keep looking after yourself as best you can.
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 as it is a crime to share naked pictures and videos of someone without their consent. Continue to reach out for support. Share how you are feeling with people you trust, and keep reminding yourself that is not your fault.
The law in Ireland on imaged based abuse
Since 9 February 2021, new laws apply to the sharing of “intimate images” without the consent of the person in the images. If a person records, distribute or publishes intimate images of someone without their permission, they have broken the law.
Intimate images include any photo or video of:
- Someone’s genitals, breasts, bum or anal region
- The underwear covering these parts of the body
- A naked person
- A person engaged in any form of sexual activity
Depending on a person’s intent when sharing the images, they can face a maximum prison sentence of up to 7 years.
If you are under 18 it is illegal to:
- Send sexual messages or media (photos or videos)
- Send sexual messages or media to anyone else under the age of 18
- Forward a sexual picture or video of someone under 18
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 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.