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1 in 4 Sextortion Victims Are 13 or Younger, Survey Finds

According to this survey research by Thorn, sextortion disproportionately affects minors and can have devastating consequences.

By August 25, 2022No Comments

Decades of studies from respected academic institutions, have demonstrated significant impacts of porn consumption for individuals, relationships, and society. "What’s the Research" aims to shed light on the expanding field of academic resources that showcase porn’s harms in a variety of ways. Below are selected excerpts from published studies on this issue.

The full study can be accessed here.

Sextortion: Summary findings from a 2017 survey of 2,097 survivors

Authors: Thorn
Published: October 2017


In 2015, the Crimes Against Children Research Center at UNH, in partnership with Thorn, conducted a survey to understand the growing trend we now know as “sextortion.”

This survey invited young people (ages 18-25) who had experienced sextortion to share their stories. More than 1,600 victims responded. From this survey, we got a first glance at what sextortion looks like, how it impacts victims, and how we can better protect our kids from this abuse. In 2017, Thorn set out to update and expand our understanding of sextortion.


To accomplish this, the 2017 survey expanded participation to include any 13-25 year olds who had experienced sextortion. The resulting responses (N=2,097)1 confirmed what we learned from victims of sextortion in the 2015 survey.

In addition, we learned important new information about how this abuse is affecting kids and teens, how tech is being leveraged in the process, and how we might better protect them.


The 2017 survey showed us that sextortion is not isolated to teens and adults; nearly 1/4 of the 2017 participants were 13 years old or younger when they were sextorted. Approximately 60% of participants who were ages 13 and younger when threatened, and slightly more than 50% of participants aged 14, did not know their offender offline.

Conversely, teenage participants ranging in age from 15-17 were the most likely (57%) participants to be threatened by an offender they knew offline. Across the sample, threats were made frequently, with nearly half (47%) of participants reporting being threatened daily, and repeatedly, with more than half (52%) of participants reporting receiving threats between 1 and 9 times per day, 1 in 4 being threatened between 10 and 19 times per day, and 1 in 4 being threatened more than 20 times per day.

Threats overwhelmingly involved demands for explicit imagery. Demands for explicit imagery were reported by 86% of victims threatened by online offenders and 62% from offline offenders.

Across the sample, other demands included telling the victim how to look or what to do in pictures or videos (41%), getting the victim to stay in a relationship (40%), meeting online for sexual activity via webcam (30%), meeting in-person (18%), telling the victim to hurt themselves (16%), send sexual pictures or videos of someone else (friend, sibling, others) (10%), and rarely, money (7%) In nearly 1 in 3 cases, offenders actually carried out or attempted to carry out threats against the victim.

Threats were more often carried out when the offender and victim knew each other in-person (38% of the time) compared to those who knew the perpetrator online (20% of the time). Nearly 2 in 3 victims complied with threats in hopes the offender would be satisfied and go away; however, for more than half (64%) the threats continued.

In fact, for those who complied with threats, 68% said the threats became more frequent in the aftermath. Shame continues to be the leading reason victims do not report sextortion. Eighty-four percent of participants who didn’t disclose said shame/ embarrassment prevented them from telling family or friends and more than half said it stopped them from telling the police (64%) or reporting to a platform (52%).

In addition, 79% of participants said fear of getting in trouble stopped them from telling a family member or friend.

The full study can be accessed here.

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