Worried about something that's happened online?

The internet can be a great place to keep in touch with friends and make new ones. Some people online will be genuine and supportive.  But others may use the internet to look for sex and target young people. They may want to trick, pressure or force young people into sexual activity.

People online can pretend to be something they’re not – a friend, a mentor, a boyfriend or girlfriend. They can even pretend to be a completely different person. They can lie about who they are and what they want. This means it is not always easy to tell the difference between someone genuine and someone dangerous. Read more about how to spot an abuser.

If someone has pressured, forced or tricked you into sharing naked photos or videos of yourself or anyone else, this is sexual abuse and it’s never your fault.

Sexual abuse can happen to both boys and girls. It can happen whether you’re young or old, gay or straight, and no matter where you’re from or what your cultural background is.

A range of emotions

Following online sexual abuse, or the discovery of it, young people often describe feelings of:

  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Betrayal
  • Embarrassment
  • Guilt

They might have these feelings straight away or at some point in the future. There are no right or wrong ways to feel in this situation.  But remember, people who have experienced online sexual abuse are never to blame. There are lots of people who can help victims to deal with the complex emotions that they may feel. 

Finding support

If you have been sexually abused you may feel like you’re on your own but there is help available. There are people out there who understand, who will listen to you and who will help make it stop.

The most important thing to do is to tell someone what has happened. Taking that first step to tell someone can be really difficult. Read tips on how to start talking to someone you trust about things which are difficult.

There is more information on people or organisations that can offer you help, advice and support below.

Talk to an adult you know and trust

Find someone good to talk to, like a parent or a teacher. Someone you know to be trustworthy or thoughtful. Childline have helpful advice on how to have a difficult conversation with an adult.

Report to CEOP

CEOP helps young people who are being sexually abused or are worried about the way that someone has been communicating with them online.

If you’ve met someone online, or face to face, and they are putting you under pressure to have sex, or send naked images you can report to CEOP.

CEOP will work together with you and lots of other professionals whose jobs are also to make sure you’re safe, this includes other police agencies.  


Speak to Childline

Childline is a free helpline for children and young people. You can contact Childline about anything. No problem is too big or too small. Whatever your worry, it's better out than in.

Childline is a private and confidential service. Confidential means not telling anyone else what you’ve said. This means that whatever you say stays between you and Childline.

They would only need to tell someone else if:

  • You ask them to
  • They believe your life or someone else’s life is in immediate danger
  • You are being hurt by someone in a position of trust who has access to other children like a teacher or police officer
  • You tell us that you are seriously harming another young person

You can call them on 0800 1111. The number won’t appear on your phone bill.

You can also visit www.childline.org.uk to speak to a counsellor online.

Speak to The Mix

If you’re under 25 and need help but don’t know where to turn, you can call The Mix for free on 0808 808 4994. They’re open 7 days a week from 4pm to 11pm. 

You can also contact them on webchat 7 days a week from 4pm to 11pm or by texting THEMIX 85258 at any time.