Sexting and Dating Abuse

Sexting is when nude or semi-nude videos or photos are sent by a cellphone or other wireless device. It can include sending a person a text or instant message that is sexual. It can also happen with email. One in 5 girls between 13 and 19 years old and 1 in 10 girls between 13 and 16 have sent nude or semi-nude videos or photos to a dating partner. It can happen between people who no longer date or never dated.

Sexting can be a form of dating abuse. It can be a way to control or harass a person. An abuser might trick a person to send a nude photo. That person may tell the victim that he will post the photos online. That person may threaten to share the photo with friends if the victim does not agree to do something. Twenty-five percent of teen girls and 33 percent of teen boys say they have had nude or semi-nude images shared with them.1

A victim may sext because there are physical or sexual threats. There may be threats to "out" a person when photos are of the same sex. The victim may also:

  • Fear for his or her safety.
  • Depend on the abuser for money, drugs, or alcohol.

Sexting may happen with other forms of abuse such as:

  • Abuse with a cell phone or computer.2
  • Asking for sex acts in exchange of photos.

Sexting may lead to legal charges. Do not allow a person to take nude or semi-nude photos. Do not take them to share with other people.

To find the domestic abuse program nearest you, visit the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence website and click on Find Help or use the Find Help map on the home page.

To reach the National Dating Abuse hotline, call 1-866-331-9474 or text loveis to 22522.

1 The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (PDF). 2008. Sex and Tech Results From a Survey of Teens and Young Adults. 

2 Carter, Lucy Salcido JD. Futures Without Violence. 2012. Effective Responses to Teen Sexting: A Guide for Judges and Other Professoinals (PDF).