How To Stop Sextortion Before It Starts, According To A Thorn PSA Featuring Shay Mitchell

"We need to open up this conversation and remove the shame."

Sextortion is defined as the act of threatening to expose a sexual image in order to make a person do something. Though the FBI classifies it as a serious crime, it often goes unreported and frequently leads to emotional or physical harm for the victim.

That's in part why Thorn — an organization dedicated to protecting vulnerable children and others by combating predatory behavior relating to technology — launched a Stop Sextortion campaign on October 3. The campaign, which also includes the below PSA narrated by actress Shay Mitchell, seeks to increase awareness about sextortion, destigmatize the issue, and encourage individuals to reach out for help and support their friends.



By using a group of cute animated cats, the PSA highlights how easy it is to become a victim of sextortion and how prevalent the unfortunate practice is, while also providing valuable insight on how to stop it by safeguarding yourself and those you care about. In the PSA, Mitchell also shares how to stop sextortion before it starts — namely, by talking about it openly.

"With support, you can do anything," Mitchell explains.

"We want people to watch the video, share it and start the conversation. The video is the starting point," Thorn CEO Julie Cordua tells A Plus. "We want kids to talk to at least two friends about this issue and let them know they have their backs if something happens and, better yet, talk about the risks."

According to Thorn, 60 percent of sextortion victims knew their perpetrators in person before they were threatened, and 45 percent of all perpetrators carry out their threats. When executed, these threats can then have damaging medical or mental consequences for the victim. However, because sextortion relies on victims feeling too ashamed to ask for help when an abuser threatens to distribute their personal images, one in three victims of the cybercrime never discuss or report their abuse.

Thorn
Thorn

That shame is what compelled Thorn to create a campaign to start a dialogue about this crime. "We need to open up this conversation and remove the shame," Cordua explains.

For more information on how you can stop sextortion, please click here.

Ashton Kutcher is co-founder and chairman of the board at A Plus. He is also a co-founder of Thorn.

Cover image via Shutterstock /  Joe Seer.

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