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Sex Education: Someone is threatening to release my nude photo!

We’ve been watching Sex Education and we love it! But it has made us wonder – does teen sex therapist Otis really know what he’s talking about? We’ve taken scenarios out of Sex Education and asked a real expert what she has to say about them. Will clinical psychologist Kerry Ashton-Shaw agree with Otis’ advice? Let’s find out!

Scenario #5: Someone is threatening to release my nude photo

Everyone in school gets the text. It’s a picture of a vagina, along with a threat to send out the same photo at the next assembly – this time with the person’s identifiable face. But whose vagina is it? Rumours run rampant. We soon find out it’s mean girl Ruby’s. She appeals to Maeve for help. “Please! Look I only sent that photo to one guy and I can’t believe I was stupid enough to leave my face in it but I’d just had my eyebrows done. If this picture gets released, it will be on the internet for the rest of my life.”

To be honest, it’s a tricky storyline to watch. Nobody likes Ruby. She’s mean. And she’s particularly mean to Maeve – and we love Maeve! But Maeve agrees to help – because nobody deserves this. Later, when Otis asks Maeve why she is helping Ruby, Maeve replies “Do you know how long I’ve been called cock biter? Four years. People I’ve never met call me cock biter to my face. Do you know how it started? Simon tried to kiss me at Claire Tyler’s 14th birthday. I said no. So he told everyone I’d given him a blowjob and bitten his dick. This kind of thing sticks. And it hurts. And no-one deserves to be shamed, not even Ruby.” So, they help. But when they can’t stop the photo being released, they have to face facts. What can Ruby do?

Otis’ Advice

Worst case scenario that photo goes out, everyone in school knows it’s you and you could be humiliated. But only if you let yourself be. Whoever did this is intended to shame you, but it won’t work if you don’t let them. ***Spoiler alert, In the end, the photo isn‘t released with Ruby’s face. But when it‘s mentioned in assembly, almost everyone in school stands up and claims it’s their vagina, even the boys. Why? Because some things are worth taking a stand against. And this is one of them.

What our expert has to say:

What a horrific situation for Ruby. Otis gives great but hard-to-do-in-real-life advice. He’s not wrong though, public humiliation tends to reduce if you just refuse to be shamed. This often means refusing to react and owning whatever it is that has happened. Often, the person who was trying to shame you then gets bored and moves on to other things. Talking to trusted friends over time will allow your brain to process the trauma of public humiliation and hopefully prevent it from having long term consequences for your mental health. If you’re struggling to manage your thoughts and feelings, it’s important to get support. 

What you need to know:

Sending naked images of yourself or others via text message or social media if you or the subject are under 18 is illegal. It counts as distributing an indecent image of a child, even if that child is you. For more information on the legal consequences of sexting, see this article by the Telegraph.

Had something similar happen to you? It’s important to talk to a trusted adult. For emotional support, contact Papyrus here.

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