There is no specific legislation for sexual assault online. All sexual actions that someone does to another person, or convinces the person to do to themselves without that person’s consent is sexual assault.
Online, this can be things like:
- Writing sexual messages, or writing/talking online in a sexual way that is experienced as uncomfortable.
- Sending dick pics, nude pictures, or forcing/persuading someone to send nude pictures.
- Pressuring/convincing someone to touch themselves and show it in a video or write about it in text.
- Pressuring someone to do something sexual through threatening the person, their family, or friends.
- Spreading pictures or videos of someone without their consent online. This is sometimes called revenge porn, and it is illegal.
- Taking advantage of a higher position of power to get someone to feel like they must take part in sexual things. The person is maybe the victim’s boss, teacher, or works at a government agency.
- Forcing/persuading someone to join group chats or groups on social media to see sexual things in their feed.
- Forcing/persuading someone to watch porn.
- Filming or photographing sexual things someone does online, alone or with other people, against the person’s will and without their knowledge. This is always illegal if the person is under 15 years of age, regardless of your agreement.
- Trying to trade or buy sexual acts or images through giving someone money, alcohol, presents, or services.
- Doing something sexual with someone who cannot express their will or protect themselves. For example, they are drunk, drug-affected, sick, or have a disability.
Consent on the internet
Even online, you need explicit consent if you want to start a sexual relationship. This applies to sending sexual pictures or messages too.
Just because someone gives up after you have nagged or does not have the energy to say no does not mean that you have consent. Everything but a yes is a no. A person cannot send a nude picture to you without your explicit consent. If it happens, it is the same thing as the crime of indecent exposure.
Advice Gather digital evidence
Document and save everything that can be used to investigate what has happened.
Advice If you are not listened to
If you are not listened to, there are many special interest organizations that work specifically with the grounds of discrimination or minority perspectives. Move forward and seek support from these organizations, you are not alone! It's common that minority perspectives are not understood, this is called gaslighting.
Advice Never answer in affect!
Never answer in affect. Don't answer the person who is attacking you by attacking them back. Just ask them to stop. A lot of the time you don't want to answer at all, which is more than understandable. But to file a police report, it can be important that you can prove that you asked the person to stop, even when it comes to sexual harassment.
Advice Take your mental health seriously
Put your mental health first. Sometimes, it can be important to take a break from social media accounts. Let someone else take care of or clear out your social media.
Advice Contact administrator(s) about cyber hate!
If you're exposed to cyber hate, always contact the administrator. They have the responsibility for removing things that violate their rules.
Today, people can be charged with virtual rape
If you have been convinced, bribed, threatened or forced to start a sexual relationship with someone online, you have the same legal protections and rights to support as if the offense happened offline.
This means that people can be charged even though the rape happens without the two parties in the same room, city, or country.
Being subjected to abuse is never your fault. You can never say, hint at, or shown yourself in a way that gives another person the right to subject you to abuse. Even if you know the person who is abusing you, or you are in a relationship with them, it is still a crime and you have the right to protection and help.
Advice Sexual harassment and sexual abuse, find support and help
Being the victim of abuse is never your fault. You can never have said, hinted at, or shown yourself in any way that gives another person the right to abuse you. Even if you are in a relationship with the person or you know them, it is still a crime and you have the right to protection and help.
Advice It is illegal to spread nude pictures of people under the age of 18
If the material is of people under the age of 18, it is a crime to share or download the material because it is seen as child pornography. Gather digital evidence of everyone who has shared the picture(s) - they are all accomplices!
Advice You are not alone, get support!
Get help from the people around you. You do not have to be alone in this. Cyber hate falls within the responsibility of the employer, school, association or organization.
Advice If someone threatens to spread private material about you – contact the police!
If you are under 15 years old
If you are under 15 years old, it is illegal for older people to start a romantic relationship or a sexual relationship with you online! This applies even if you yourself might want to and you have the possibility of having sexual relationships online.
Of course, it is hard to regulate this, so it is important to talk about your sexual relationships on the internet with someone who can listen without prejudices — so that you are safe and secure when you use the internet.
Some people have professional secrecy, so they can support you in thinking about your relationships online, like UMO, young women’s shelters, trans shelters, or BRIS. They are also mandated reporters, so they have to file a report if they think that you are in danger or are being subjected to a crime, but you can have anonymous contact with them.
The most important thing is that you have people around you to talk to about your relationships.