Sending a nude a do or a dont

Sending nudes is the act of sharing sexual images of yourself via instant message. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. The consequences of sending nudes can be traumatising and unhealthy for many relationships. Here’s more.

Consider the reasons why you’re sending nudes

There are various reasons why you could be sending a naked selfie. These could include making your sexual life exciting, impressing your partner or you may be feeling pressured to send one. If someone is pressuring you, they aren’t respecting your boundaries and trying to manipulate you which is common in an unhealthy relationship. Whatever your reasons are, make sure you think about the consequences.

It could be illegal

Before sending a naked selfie, remember that the legal age of sexting in South Africa is 18. If you’re sexting and under the age of 18, that’s considered a criminal offence. The law doesn’t make any exception for under age people creating, possessing, or sharing such material between themselves. Sharing these photos via any form of text/social media is also illegal.

Do you trust your partner?

Do you feel like your partner is trustworthy and dependable? It’s easy to trust your partner in the moment you take the pic, but it’s when things go sour that you need to be concerned about. Ask yourself how sure you are that this person won’t share the images once you have a fall out or an argument. Sharing nudes always involves a bit of risk. While you might not think your partner would ever use them against you, you should always consider it as a possibility. If something feels off in your relationship, it most likely is.

Power dynamics

Once you share explicit photos with a partner or anyone, you may notice their behaviour take a turn for the worse. They may even behave as if they “own” you, using your photos as a threat during disagreements. This is because when you give nude photos to someone, the power dynamics in the relationship or ‘situationship’ change. Think about how they’ll always have something to use against you during fights or if you decide to leave the relationship.

The consequences

If a sexual image of you is shared, you can take action to have it removed. But it’s difficult to make sure all traces of the image are completely gone, which could affect your online reputation as you try to enter the workplace. These days, most companies do a thorough social media check with all new employees, and could stumble across images you took years ago. This experience can also have serious effects on your mental health and wellbeing.

What to do if your nudes have been shared

Don’t delete any of the messages received.

Take screenshots of the threats from the person- these can be used as evidence.

Talk to someone you can trust.

Contact your local police service.

Discontinue all communication with this person.

You can report the person to the messaging or social platform, on which they’re contacting you.

Contact a trusted counsellor or chat to me.

Remember that once sent, any images are out of your control, so it’s wise to reflect carefully and consider the long-term consequences before you send a nude. Never give into someone pressuring you to do something you aren’t comfortable with.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).