Mental health, sexual abuse therapist discusses effects of sexting during panel

Nicole Dingwell, a mental health and sexual abuse therapist, answered questions about sexting from a point of view that many people in the audience didn’t consider during a panel about sexting on the evening of Aug. 1 during the 2011 MIPA Summer Journalism Workshop.

Mental health and sexual abuse therapist, Nicole Dingwell, discusses possible mental and emotional issues related to sexting incidents. Dingwell was part of a panel of experts who presented on Aug. 1 during the 2011 MIPA Summer Journalism Workshops. By Liz Rosalez / Upstart Staff

She said she’s the one who witnesses the fall0ut firsthand. Dingwell stressed the effects that sexting can have on a person long after the pictures have been sent.

The increase of sexual tolerance can eventually lead to a porn or sex addiction, according to Dingwell. “If someone starts receiving sexual images, they know that they can go on a computer and find some more. The brain starts to build a tolerance for that type of subject matter, and when that happens, the need for it will start to increase,” she said.

Age also contributes to the effects of sexting. Dingwell said emotional and cognitive stages of development in the brain may have an effect on how the person makes sense of what they have seen.

Victims of sexting can often feel shame or depression and eventually lose self-respect and gain low self-esteem. The person receiving sexually suggestive material could also get anxiety, or it can be the beginning to a new addiction that could alter someone’s values or morals.

“Don’t do it,” Dingwell said. “It is so painful to the victim or to someone who is circulating sexting. It’s just like crack; don’t go there.” By Paris Harper / Upstart Staff

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