Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Is it my fault for not saying no to someone who asked me for nude pictures?

When I was younger, I began being taken advantage of by guys online that i trusted. It went on for a long time, and sometimes I wonder that if I had just said no that maybe none of this would have ever happened. Why couldn't I say no? And does the fact that they didn't really force or threaten me into it but mostly just asked until I gave in make me not a real victim?

Am I actually a victim of abuse in the first place? Is what happened to me considered real sexual abuse? And if so, should I seek professional help for my trauma?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

It's never okay for someone to pressure you into sending nudes. It's also illegal to send or receive nudes if you’re under the age of 18.

Sometimes people spend a lot of time trying to make friends with a young person online, getting to know them and making them feel special - all so they can get something sexual from them, like nudes. This is called grooming and is one way someone can be sexually exploited. You might sometimes hear this being called "child sexual exploitation" or "CSE" and this is a form of sexual abuse.

People who are groomed often don't realise they’re being groomed until it's too late. You might think people are just being friendly or nice to you and that it’s a positive thing. It's difficult to tell because most people in your life are probably just trying to be friends - not everyone is out to groom you. So it's natural not to think anything is wrong at first and can be hard to spot.

If someone is putting you under a lot of pressure and they keep asking you for something, it can be hard to see they were wrong until you look back on it later. This is another technique used by people who are trying to exploit you and it is abuse. You are just as much a victim of online CSE as anyone else. If you are under 18 then the men who were pressuring you for this were breaking the law - even if they were under 18 as well.

Coming to terms with something like this can take time and it's different for everyone. It is real sexual abuse and there is support available. You can get professional help if you feel it’s right for you - just ask your GP if you want this kind of support. Or you can speak to an adult you trust about what you’ve been through.

In the meantime you can also talk to a Childline counsellor who will listen without judging you. They can usually keep this confidential as well.

If you wanted to talk to other young people who have gone through similar experiences, you could try posting on the Childline message boards. I hope this has helped, thanks for sharing this with me.

Take care.


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