Cases of online sexual abuse had been rampant during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for children and youth as they shift their education to online platforms. Responding to these cases can be difficult if they do not know where to seek help. Luckily for Ying, an 18-year-old girl in Thailand, she had ChildLine.
Ying was a streamer on the VLIVE online platform which allowed to draw pictures during live sessions. She had many followers and viewers interested in her talent and art. However, earlier this year, she was contacted by a man who requested her to perform sexual acts in front of a camera and asked her how much she would charge him for the livestreaming session.
She was afraid to take action and was unsure that anything could be done. She is also a survivor of child sexual abuse which occurred during her childhood. At that time she had reported the abuse to her mother, but no action was taken. Therefore Ying thought that nothing could be done to protect her against the man who abused her online.
Ying felt insulted, ashamed, abused, afraid and insecure. She did not know what to do. Based on her sexual abuse experience years earlier she really thought that nothing could be done to protect her. She decided to stop her streaming shows on VLIVE as she was too scared of the man who abused her and potentially other abusers that may contact her.
Ying called ChildLine’s number and self identified herself as a victim of sexual abuse online. She explained her situation, the abuse that had happened during her online activities and she asked for support to get protected from the abuser and from other potential abusers who would find her online and potentially offline.
ChildLine social workers and counselors provided Ying with several counselling sessions and legal assistance which led to Ying deciding to press charges against the online abuser. A complaint was lodged against him and the ChildLine team and legal advisors are following up on the case.
Due to the support that was provided to her, Ying feels more confident and secure. The fact that she decided to press charges has given her the feeling that there are ways to prevent and address sexual abuse and protect the victims. She felt hopeless following the sexual abuse she has suffered when she was young but know she trusts ChildLine and the justice system. She can now confidently focus on her studies.
“I was a victim. I was scared and ashamed, and it went unnoticed for almost 10 years, but I was able to break that wall of fear and now I feel empowered to not fear men anymore”, Ying said.
Many children and youth such as Ying are at risk of online sexual exploitation. With partner organisations of Terre des Hommes Netherlands like ChildLine, they are given a source of support through their awareness raising campaigns and advocacy against child exploitation.