What to do if you are threatened or blackmailed with your sex tape or nude pictures

Nobody has a right to share your pictures online unless you give your express consent to it, even if you are fully clothed. Yeah, you read that right. You have the right of privacy except where your privacy can be relaxed or retracted as permitted by law (in Nigeria, it is generally blanketed under the notorious Section 45). How much more sharing your nudes?



When someone shares or threatens to share your sex tape or nude photos to a third party or to the general public, that is revenge porn. It is a crime in almost all countries on this planet; a serious one. So serious it has stiff punishments attached because of the gravity on the victim’s reputation. Jobs can be lost, you may never get a decent job anymore. Your reputation may be damaged. You may be ostracized by several societies. Important relationships may be severed. It does not matter whether the person is your husband, your parent, boyfriend, sibling or a stranger.



Once it is done without your consent, he’s a step close to prison.

First things first...


Never blame yourself. When someone messages you and threatens to share you naked pictures, it automatically destabilizes you. Your life is about to turn upside down at the click of a button. You begin to sweat. You’d begin to lose sleep. Stress rams through your psyche. Understand and believe that there is nothing inherently wrong in expressing your sexuality and sexual thoughts by sending your nude pictures to a guy you like or once trusted. You are not the bad one, he is.


On that note, permit us to say that it’s okay to trust anyone, but please draw a very thick line when it comes to sensitive photos. It doesn’t mean you do not trust them. But, just as people go to great extents to prove their love to someone they love, they also go to equal extent to demonstrate how heartbroken they are when the relationship ends. When your nudes are in that person’s possession during a breakup, you wouldn’t sleep well at night. So dear, just so that you do not have to question that trust in the future, safety first. Where you have been recorded without your knowledge and are being threatened, you’re also on the right page.



Quick move, report it


What if the police in my country are unable to help; or what if they handle my case with scorn, impunity and laxity? You have nothing to lose. If that video or picture goes out, that will be the least of your worries.


Immediately you receive the blackmail message, do not respond to it. Quickly, run to the police station like there is fire on the mountain…because there really is. After that, get a lawyer. You need one, but where you cannot afford one, head straight to an NGO aimed at women empowerment. They are most likely to have an in-house or volunteer legal practitioner. They will welcome you and swing into action. Even if you can get a lawyer, still head to an NGO. Now inform the NGO that you have hired a lawyer and inform the lawyer that you have reached out to an NGO. They will most likely want to work together. Your reputation is on the line, and you’d really need an army. Remember, do not respond to that text or that meeting until you have done all these. There are times that the person who is threatening to release the tape is unknown, you might have to hire a private investigator if you can afford one.


Before going to the police or an NGO, make sure you record the conversation. Most times, these threats would have been made on the phone either via a call or texts. Where the threat is being made on a call, discreetly record the call. If it’s done via texts, ensure you take screenshots so that they are not lost.


Talk to someone


This is usually difficult because you would have to disclose that you had an affair with someone or that you recorded or took images of yourself nude and sent it to the person.

A lot of people are scared of the way people will perceive them if they try to seek advice. The fear of ridicule would be very strong at this point. Again, remember that you have nothing to lose. If the videos go online, they’re gonna see it anyway. If you decide to give in to the demands of your blackmailer, he’s just gonna keep coming back with more and more demands. He’s gonna ask for a million that first time. Then when he blows it up at the club in a month, he’s gonna ask you for 5 million. Then 8 million. He would probably even demand that you have sex with him. Only a maniac blackmails another with nude pictures. Ponder on how desperate a maniac can be. Think you can keep up?


Talk to someone you trust, maybe a parent, or a sibling. If you are worried about letting a family member in on it, talk to someone else, perhaps a pastor you trust or a mentor. Talk to teachers you trust in school, especially if you suspect the blackmail is being done by a fellow student. These teachers or mentors are not directly affected by the outcome of the nude content if it gets leaked so they will be very clear-headed. Such persons may be able to give you the most strategic approach and solution to the problem.


Another category of persons you can talk to are mental health workers. At that point, your nerves are probably on fire and you can feel everything collapsing around you. Anxiety may get the best of you. You may reach out to such people at the very beginning, in the process or after the storm is over. They hold conversations highly confidential and will actually take steps to help salvage the situation you are in.




Extreme situations...


There are situations where all attempts above may be futile. The NGO you have reached out to may not be making quick progress and your blackmailer is swearing to release the pictures in the next hour. He’s asking for a transfer of huge funds that you cannot afford at the moment.


Understand the atmosphere and mind control. Your blackmailer has nothing to lose. If you don’t send him the money, he’s gonna post the picture or video in helpless frustration and rage. If you make payment, he’s gonna come back for more funds. You’d become his ATM and the pictures are the ATM PIN. The day you stop, he’s gonna get pissed, open a burner account, post the video and tag gist blogs. He has all the cards. You on the other hand know the amount of things you have to lose.


What you want to do in that situation is to assume that the video will be leaked anyway. You need to downplay the impact of this new reality on your emotions. It’s not easy to pretend that all hell is about to break loose. Yeah, things are about to go south. Here, your first instinct would be to start begging. It’s the natural reaction to danger. Fear is crazy. Perhaps if I beg him and cry on the phone, he’d have compassion. Nah. We are talking money here and your tears won’t put food on his table. So you gotta try to be calm. You have to hold still. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and hold still. Once you begin to panic and call and text him, you’re feeding him with power.


Now, on first contact with him, the moment you get that message, DO NOT RESPOND. Do not reply that text. In the next 4 hours, ignore it. For example, he sends the video to you on WhatsApp with a message – ‘Send 5 million or this goes public.’ When you see that, you don’t respond. You’d be anxious so always give yourself 3-4 hours at least. Luckily, you’d have turned off Read Receipts and disabled the Last Seen Feature, so he wouldn’t know if you’ve read the message. He’s gonna start fidgeting like – ‘has she seen what I sent to her? Maybe she hasn’t seen it. Should I send it again? Or maybe she’s gone to the police. No, that’s not possible. Is she playing games with me? She’s probably not with her phone. I will give her one hour and if she doesn’t respond, I will send it again.’ See that? He’s gonna start stressing. Instead of you panicking, he’s the one panicking. Well……you’d also be panicking actually, but he doesn’t know that. He’d begin to lose sleep over whether you’ve gone to the police, you’ve briefed your lawyer or you’ve reached out to an NGO. He’d begin to look out his window for the sign of a cop car after 2 hours.


You have made the right move. You’re a little calmer. By the way, if any unsaved, unknown or private number suddenly calls you after you ignored the message at first, do not pick that call. He’s probably the one. He’s desperate. He wants to know what’s going on. He’d probably also send another message or he will use another number to text you. He might have access to your other phone numbers and he will try to text those or make a call. At that point, you’d know he’s started panicking. Do not respond or reply. Do not pick the call. Let him sweat a little. The wicked shall find no rest.


Still on this mind control, assume you are not being threatened or that there is no blackmailer; and that some bug just roamed through the 1s and 0s of the internet and is mistakenly about to release the video. What are you going to do in that situation? What are you also going to do in the situation we mentioned above? The blackmailer has come for blood and he’s holding the weapon – your nudes. You just gotta disarm him. Remember that these are extreme situations. You first gotta talk to your lawyer and the police and all that. But where those are looking hopeless, then you have to disarm him.




How do you do this?


First, by telling those around about what is about to happen. Call those close to you and those most important to you. In this order, call your parents first if you haven’t told them already. You’d be gradually disarming the blackmailer. Show them the video. The blackmailer’s goal is to bring disgrace to you and your family. There’s no disgrace if they’ve already seen it. Tell them everything. No hidden details. Let them absorb the pain. Better now than letting random people see the pictures and send it to them like “we saw your daughter’s nudes on a WhatsApp Group.” Good thing is, your parents will also advise you (probably after scolding you). Second on the list – if you are employed, call your boss immediately and let him know. That type of video may probably get you fired anyways, you got nothing to lose. But if you tell him beforehand, your job may still be secure.






You need not show your boss the video, but if you feel it might make him understand the gravity/extent of the damage that video or picture will do to the company, you may show him. Please, do not send it to your employer if you must let him see the content. You don’t want double problems. Meet with him physically and show him on your own phone. Explain everything and ask him if you’ll still have a job after it goes viral. He’ll be honest and let you know if you will or if you will not. Sometimes, he might say he would, but when the heat gets to the company, he might have to let you go. But again, 50:50 chances right?


What’s not 50:50 is if he’s not aware and it goes live. It would certainly be 70% unless he’s a really good guy or he just doesn’t give a damn and is ready to weather the storms with you. And yeah, there are really great employers out there who might go to the extent of releasing a statement in your defense and showing their support for you and all their staff. Good PR right? People love companies who stand up for their staff, instead of punishing their workers for the criminal activities of a blackmailer. 50:50 sister, 50:50.



Desperate


The most desperate move is the temptation to release your own sex tapes to completely disarm the blackmailer. The similes are wild. Some consider it taking the gun from your assailant and shooting yourself so you can die with some honour and self-respect. Some liken it to magically turning a revolver into a paintball gun. You’d get stained with all that paint, but you’ve turned a brutal scene into a mere sport. Well, most times, it’s the first example and rarely the second. Why? Because it’s a sex tape. People are gonna see it and troll you on the internet. You’d think you’re strong until you begin to get hurtful messages. It will be more than memes. You might find hundreds of creeps sending you nasty texts, calling you offensive names and threatening to harm you. Yeah, many have reported such incidents, and they were just wearing bikinis. Cyberbullying is so serious that the laws are being reviewed regularly to introduce fresh penalties for new ways of bullying people.





It doesn’t have to be exactly like that. Here’s how to take this extremely desperate step. Don’t post pictures or videos. No. First, carry out all steps before this, as usual. Call the cops, inform your employers, school, parents, NGOs etc. Next, tell your followers about it. Type it up on your notes app or something and post the write-up on your social media pages. Inform them of what is happening to you and that your photos or videos are going to be leaked by a blackmailer. This is the point you want to be as honest as possible. Just as honest as you were with your parents, be honest with your followers.


Don’t think some won’t still troll you. They will. The internet is rich with mean and unforgiving people. But you will draw the compassion of 95% of your audience. They will also suggest ways to go about it, and you will be shocked that many may take it upon themselves to track down and expose the blackmailer. Believe it, the internet is equally full of tech-savvy vigilantes. Inform them that you have chosen not to play the games of the blackmailer and that when he decides to post the video, you will inform them and even quote-tweet it so that they can see it. Finally, apologize for hurting your followers and betraying their trust, loyalty and love for you. Apologize for getting yourself into that situation and that you have learnt a big lesson. Tell them that you will be more careful next time.


Then, wait.


Your friends,

Oyemaja.




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