What should I do if someone sends me a sext?

Half of Canadian youth aged 16 to 20 have been sent a sext (a nude, partly nude or sexy photo) that they didn’t ask for. Whether you call them sexts, nudes, naked selfies or just pics, if you receive an intimate image like this, it’s your job to make the right choice about the sender’s privacy. There is no excuse to forward a sext that someone sent you.

So, you’ve received a sext that you didn’t ask for. Now what?

Delete it right away

If someone sends you a sext that you didn’t ask for, delete it. You can also ask the person not to send more if you feel comfortable doing so.

Block the person

On social: If they keep sending you sexts (or other unwanted messages) that you don’t want, you can block them. Most social networks have Block and Mute functions.

On your smartphone: If the sexts are being sent to an iPhone, you can add the person to your Contacts menu and then tap on Block This Caller. If they’re being sent to you on an Android phone, tap and hold the message, then tap on Add to Spam.

On AirDrop: If you have a Mac or an iPhone you may also get sexts you don’t want through AirDrop. You can set AirDrop to only allow files from your contacts: Settings > General > AirDrop > Contacts Only. (You can also tap Receiving Off at the last step if you don’t want to be able to get files by AirDrop at all.)

Repeatedly sending someone sexts that they didn’t ask for can be considered harassment, which is a crime. If this is happening to you, talk to an adult you trust about getting help from a lawyer or the police.

What if you receive a sext that you asked for, or you were sent one that you didn’t mind getting?

If someone sends you a sext, never under any circumstances should you share it or forward it to other people. That includes:

  • Sending it to someone else – even “just one person”.
  • Showing it to somebody else – even if they promise not to tell anyone they saw it.
  • Posting it somewhere online – even if you’re confident the person in the photo or anyone they know won’t see it.
  • Why? Because forwarding, sharing and posting intimate images of someone else without their consent is against the law. It’s also just wrong, and can really hurt both the person who sent the sext and the people who share it with others.

If you ask for a sext and the person says no, always take “no” for an answer and never pressure someone into sending you a sext.

What if I get a sext from someone besides the person who’s in it?

Just because the sext has been shared before, doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to share it too. It hurts every time someone new sees a sext that was shared without the person’s consent.

If you know the person in the picture, let them know that you received it and that you deleted it. You can also help them deal with the situation by sharing this Tip Sheet: Help! Someone shared a photo of me without my consent.

Sometimes someone may share sexts that other people have sent them in the hopes that others will share sexts in return. Remember, you don’t “owe” anything to someone because they shared a sext with you and you aren’t obligated to share something back.

If you ever receive a sext, you should remind yourself that sharing and forwarding sexts:

  • is against the law if the person in the image is under 18.
  • is against the law without the person’s permission (regardless of age).
  • is morally wrong.
  • hurts the person in the image in ways that may last a lifetime.

Taking and sharing sexts is a risky behaviour in itself, but most importantly there is never an excuse to share or forward a sext of someone else without their consent.