Understanding Trauma & Violence

Question

Can you talk about sexting coercion?

Answer

Thank you for asking this question! Especially during COVID, sexting coercion is something that many people can experience now that we are limiting our in-person exposure to others. The access we have to other people through the avenue of technology comes with both opportunities and threats. We have various experiences online, from connecting with new people to catching up with old friends. Technology has infiltrated every aspect of our culture, including sexual violence. Coercion is when a person is forced to do something they would not normally choose to do because threats are made against their safety or well-being. Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or images through the internet or one’s phone. Sexting Coercion is when someone, from an intimate partner to a stranger, pressures or manipulates another person to participate in sexting. Sexting coercion could not only jeopardize one's physical safety, but one's emotional safety as well. As compared to other forms of dating aggression, researchers have noted the unique potential of sexting coercion, especially when it prompts unwanted sexting, to produce future psychological trauma due to concerns about the recipient sharing the images. While sexting can be consensual and a form of intimacy for some, it can also be harmful and traumatic for others. Just because a sexually explicit photo or message was sent does not automatically mean that the sender wanted to share it. In a study, it was found that sexting coercion was related to both physical sex coercion and intimate partner violence, which suggests that sexting coercion may be a form of intimate partner violence, providing perpetrators with a new, digital route for physical and sexual victimization. Experiencing sexual violence can lead to sexting coercion and vice versa. Sexting coercion can be a form of control or manipulation for an abuser. Being pressured or persuaded to send something you don't want to send is not okay. Brushing off instances where a person coerced another person to do something they were uncomfortable with is not okay. As technology continues to advance, we need to fight for online safety and acknowledge that conversations around what is consensual over the internet are important.

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