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Ask a Professional: Explicit picture blackmailing

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Ask a Professional: Explicit picture blackmailing

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Ask a Professional: Explicit picture blackmailing

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My 13yr old has confessed to sending a mildly explicit snap upon the request of someone who has now threatened to send the photos to all her followers unless she sends more explicit photos. Then the perpetrator proceeded to send nude photos of themselves.

What should we do?

I found her in a panic attack situation wishing she could die but ive managed to help her settle. We have reported the user profile to snapchat and blocked him

Hi @Wheetbiz,

What a difficult situation for you and your daughter. Great work on reporting the user profile to Snapchat and I hope that @Philippa-RO's response has been helpful in terms of the options to follow-up on the legal side of things.

I wanted to follow-up a bit regarding the emotional impact of such a stressful event. You mention that your daughter was in panic at the time, which is a very natural and expected reaction to the situation.

You also mentioned your daughter ‘wishing she could die’. This isn’t an uncommon thing for someone to say, particularly when they are feeling panicked, and isn’t always meant literally. However, I do recommend having a chat with her about whether she is experiencing thoughts of dying. I suggest talking about this at a time when both of you are calm, and to take an approach of curiosity and wanting to understand how she is feeling. You can find more tips on this here. If your daughter is experiencing thoughts of suicide, it’s important to arrange for her to see a GP or psychologist.

Sometimes something really distressing happening can result in someone feeling unsettled and anxious for a while, and other times teens will react to something really strongly at the time, but will bounce back pretty quickly. There’s no ‘right’ way to respond, and not every teen who has something upsetting will need professional support like seeing a psychologist or counsellor.

A guide to when to consider professional support would be if your daughter wants to be able to talk more about what happened with someone, or if you’re noticing that she’s continuing to be distressed and not feeling better over time. She might also want to take some time to think about whether she wants to talk to someone about what happened. If she is not at risk of harming herself, I’d recommend mentioning the option of professional help but giving her space and time to decide whether it is something she wants.

What happened is not your daughter’s fault, but she may be experiencing some feelings of shame and guilt. This is a really common response to someone making these kinds of threats. When speaking to her, it’s important to stay consistent that what happened is not her fault, and that the other person did the wrong thing.

You may be feeling worried about your daughter sending a mildly explicit snap initially. If you’re worried that peer pressure may have played a role in that, then you might find this guide on peer pressure helpful.

Best wishes,


Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.

Casual scribe

Re: Ask a Professional: Explicit picture blackmailing

Encourage her to talk to someone she trusts about what happened, like a therapist or a school counselor. Let her know that you're there for her and that you will do everything in your power to help her through this.

Casual scribe

Re: Ask a Professional: Explicit picture blackmailing

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Is a scary thing and can be traumatizing, especially for young people. It's great that you were able to help her calm down and that you've already taken some action by reporting the user profile and blocking him. Additionally, you can contact organizations that specialize in helping victims of online blackmail. I would suggest taking further steps to protect your daughter's privacy and safety. You may want to consider talking to the authorities about what happened and see if they can help you in any way. It's important to remember that your daughter is not alone in this and that there are resources available to support her.