Reporting

Sexual Pictures

If you have shared an intimate/sexual picture or video with a person, or if you know that someone has such a picture/video of you, and that picture/video is being shared with others online or by phone (or you are worried this may occur), there are steps you can take to regain control over the situation.

  • The Law

    Canada now has a law to help deal with the non-consensual distribution of an intimate image. It is illegal for a person to distribute an “intimate image” of another person without that person’s consent.

    So, if someone has a sexual/intimate image of you that was created in private circumstances, and that person knowingly posts it online or shares it with someone else knowing that you would not consent to that (or being reckless about whether you would consent to it), the person could be charged. Given the serious nature of criminal charges, it is likely that for something to be done, it will need to be clear that the person in the image is you – for example, your face or some other identifying feature is showing or there is accompanying text with the image that says it is you.

  • What does “intimate image” mean?

    An “intimate image” is a visual recording of a person made by any means (e.g. picture or video) in which the person is nude or exposing his or her genitals, buttocks or breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity if:

    1. at the time the recording is made, there are circumstances that made it reasonable for the person in the recording to expect privacy; AND
    2. at the time the recording is shared without consent, the person shown in the recording still has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    An example of a situation where it might be reasonable for a person to expect privacy might be if s/he takes a picture of her/himself while s/he is alone in her/his bedroom or other private setting, or a picture taken by one person of another person who is in a private setting at the time.

  • What can I do if another person has or is sharing my sexual (intimate) picture/video?

    • If the image is online, you can take action to have it removed. We created a site called NeedHelpNow.ca where we walk young people through steps that can be taken to get pictures off the Internet. This might be a good place for you to start.
    • If you do not know whether your image is online or otherwise being shared, but are worried that it might happen, or even if you know it is being shared and you want it to stop, you might want to send a message to the person who has your picture/video saying something like:

      “I do not consent to you having the picture/video of me [add description, such as ‘that I sent you on (DATE)’], I want you to delete it and I do not give you permission to share it with anyone else.”

      Sending a message like this is important because, once the person knows how you feel, they can no longer say they didn’t know your views. You can send a text or email, tell the person by phone or in person or have someone else communicate the message. The best way to send a message is in writing so you will have a copy of what was sent.

    • Whether you sent the person who has your image a message or not, if you are scared that an intimate image of you will be shared by someone, this law does allow you to apply to the court for something called a “prevention order” (an order of the court that names a specific person and tells them not to share or post an existing intimate image). Local courthouses have information about how to obtain a prevention order. Involving a safe adult to help you would probably be a good idea if you want to go down this path.
    • You can also report your concern to your local police or to us through our Cybertip.ca report form. If you decide to enter a report at Cybertip.ca, once it has been processed, all information connected to it may be forwarded to law enforcement and/or child welfare for review and investigation.
  • What if I am being threatened or blackmailed?

    If you have shared a sexual image or video and are now being threatened, blackmailed, etc., the situation has likely gone too far. We strongly suggest you immediately do at least one of the following:

    1. Report your concern to police in your area or send in a report to Cybertip.ca.
    2. Tell your parents/guardians about what is happening so that they can immediately help you with the situation.
    3. If you can’t talk to your parents/guardians, tell a safe adult (i.e. teacher, counsellor, relative) about what is going on so they can help you address the situation.
  • What if my situation involves an adult that has or is sharing my sexual (intimate) picture?

    If your situation involves an adult who has or is sharing your sexual (intimate) image, you should immediately report your situation to local police or Cybertip.ca.

  • Where can I turn to for support or more information?

    Family, friends and/or other safe adults can protect and support you during what may be a difficult time. Coping strategies will also help you manage and work towards moving past what has occurred.

    • NeedHelpNow.ca is designed to provide youth (13 to 17 years old) with practical steps to regain control over the situation. This includes information about contacting websites/online services to request a picture/video be removed, dealing with peers who may have seen or be sharing the content, the importance of emotional support and information on certain criminal offences.
    • You can contact Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868), an anonymous and confidential counselling service.
    • You can find a counsellor either at school or by searching online for a community drop-in service.
    • If you are a Canadian, you can contact us if you need help finding the proper support services in your area.
    • Our Resource Guide for Families is available to assist families when responding to self/peer exploitation incidents.
    • Our Internet safety resources for youth are designed to provide information about how tweens and teens are using digital devices and what parents can do to make it safer.
  • What if I am an adult (18+) who is concerned about another person having and/or sharing my sexual (intimate) picture?

    Cybertip.ca deals with online sexual victimization involving individuals under 18 years of age. However, it is important to note that the non-consensual distribution of an intimate image offence also applies to adults. If you are an adult concerned about a sexual (intimate) image being shared without your consent, learn more about the steps you can take.

    Note: While posting a recording online or sharing it by phone are likely the most common ways this offence will take place, the offence also includes selling the image, advertising the image, or making it available (such as posting a link to the image).


Sharing Someone Else’s Sext is ILLEGAL Campaign


The above is general information and it is provided to help you understand the law better. It is NOT legal advice. This is a brand new law and it is not possible to predict how it will be interpreted and enforced by police and the courts.

  • Learn more at NeedHelpNow.ca
  • Report to Cybertip.ca