Sextortion a growing trend in Mid-Michigan - WNEM TV 5

Sextortion a growing trend in Mid-Michigan

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Children and women are regularly manipulated online in a scary phenomenon many know little about.

It's called sextortion and often involves things like explicit photos or videos obtained under false pretenses. One of the most vulnerable targets happens to be teenagers.

"I think it's disgusting," Carah Vanluven said.

Sextortion is a term used for predators who receive sexually explicit images of people then use those pictures or videos for blackmail.

"I think that if I trusted anyone with that type of thing that it would be between you and I and not plastered over the internet or blackmailed me with," Vanluven said.

In some cases the victims are told to send more sexual images or money to their blackmailer and if they don't their images will be put all over the world wide web.

Don Troxell is a parent of two children. He has his own way of telling them how to avoid sextortion.

"Be smart. Don't leave anything on the internet you don't want to show your parents," he said.

The Child and Family Services had some advice on making sure your child doesn't become a victim of sextortion.

"Communicate to their kids. Talk to them. Let them know that this is something that is real and it's something that can happen to anyone," said Adrianne Coker, with Child and Family Services.

She has dealt with sextortion victims of all different ages, from grade school to adults. She said it's a growing problem in Mid-Michigan.

"Victims feel a huge sense of loss of control. They feel humiliation. They feel shame," Coker said.

She tells the victims this doesn't change who they are. Their life is not defined by the unfortunate incident.

Meanwhile, Vanluven said she won't be taking any compromising pictures of herself anytime soon.

"That's not anything that I want to be involved in because I know the dangers of what can happen," she said.

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