Sexting victim warns youngsters against sending nude images

A teenager has appealed to young people to think twice before sexting and described how ‘awful’ it felt to learn naked images she sent to her boyfriend had ended up in the hands of strangers.

Eleanor, who has used a pseudonym to protect her identity, was just 14 when her then-partner asked her to send him so-called ‘nudes’ while she was away on holiday.

The London teenager said she was reluctant to do so at first but the boy, who went to her school and who she had been seeing for just under a year, told her he could be trusted.

The girl’s ex and two other boys were eventually arrested and had their phones seized, Eleanor said she was told there was not enough evidence to charge anyone in the case. A stock image is used above for illustrative purposes [File photo]

‘Because he was my boyfriend of quite a long time, I didn’t really see any problem with it,’ she said. ‘Everyone had done it. All my friends had done it before.’

Her advice comes as Scotland Yard revealed that hundreds of children as young as six have been deemed suspects in “sexting” offences.

The force warned of the risks of sharing sexual photos and videos of and by under-18s, with reports to police on the rise.

Eleanor, now aged 18, said she felt reassured by the fact she was sending the five images on Snapchat - an app on which images typically disappear after a few seconds.

But, unknown to her, the boy had downloaded an app allowing him to save the images without the sender realising.

The London teenager said she was reluctant to do so at first but the boy, who went to her school and who she had been seeing for just under a year, told her he could be trusted [File photo]

It was not until a few months later, when the couple had broken up, that things began to get out of hand - although, at first, Eleanor said she did not know why.

‘All of a sudden, none of my friends would talk to me and boys that he (her ex) was friends with were calling me a s*** and I was actually physically hurt in school. I was pushed around, had my hair pulled,’ she said.

Eleanor moved schools, but two weeks later she got a message from a former schoolmate telling her the images she had sent to her ex were being spread around and things escalated from there.

‘I was getting messages multiple times a day, people sending me the images of myself, calling me horrible, horrible names, insulting the way I look,’ she said.

Asked how it made her feel, she said: ‘Just so embarrassed and just like I was completely alone. I just felt awful about myself and my appearance and like I could never trust anyone.’

Although her ex and two other boys were eventually arrested and had their phones seized, Eleanor said she was told there was not enough evidence to charge anyone in the case.

‘Those boys that hurt me and abused me and gave me the worst few years of my life are just getting on with their lives,’ she said.

‘We’ll never know who ended up with them (the images). That stranger that messages me, they weren’t arrested, they didn’t have their phone seized. It’s scary.’

Support for teenagers facing similar situations is not good enough, she said, as she called for more awareness around young people and sexting.

‘I just felt like I was failed by everyone,’ she said.

Eleanor moved schools, but two weeks later she got a message from a former schoolmate telling her the images she had sent to her ex were being spread around and things escalated from there [File photo]

‘The support I found was not helpful.’

She said sexting is something that is likely to continue to happen in today’s society, but appealed to young people to think carefully about the consequences sending such images could have.

‘When I was in school, we had assemblies about it but I still sent them and so many others still send them,’ she said.

‘I think if someone’s thinking about it, think twice. If they’ve heard this, think about me because the law and the support system is not on your side and although you might think you’re safe, I thought I was safe.’

Addressing parents directly, she urged them not to blame their children if it happens to them.

‘I really, really think you’ve just got to be there for your child if it does go wrong,’ she said.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said the force carried out a full investigation, and submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service, but all three suspects, who were aged 15 on their arrest, were released with no further action.