Exploited online

Sorry, I don’t know if this is the right place to post but don’t know where else to go. Someone I know is being exploited on social media by her so-called “friends”. :frowning:
She is an adult with LD, over 25, and living at home with her parents. The “friends” of hers send her messages with requests for money and indecent pictures and she just goes along with it. She doesn’t sleep well and she is constantly glued to her phone.
We explained that these men were just using her, told her to unfriend them and restrict her friends to actual people we know. We gave her an easy read leaflet from Surrey Police aimed at people with LD which explains things really well and sent links about Internet safety.
The problem is she doesn’t realise she’s being exploited and we think she is carrying on. She trusts these men and thinks they are her friends. She’s been secretive so there is some aspect of her knowing it’s wrong but she doesn’t see herself as a victim.
What can we do? Only her mum and I know about this. I know there is help for children with online concerns, but what about adults with learning difficulties?

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There are some really good video resources around online safety, social media etc. for people with learning disabilities at www.ckuk.org.uk - check out their vimeo page


Hi, there’s a great website for helping people with a learning disability stay safe online. It’s called Safer Net and has been created by the fantastic Respond Charity:

http://safernet.org.uk/ - the section on Mate Crime will be helpful.


The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities have just published a good Easy Read guide to staying safe online and on social media:


Our Easy Read service has also worked with Disability Wales and produced a good Easy Read introduction to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Skype:


Good luck,

Easy Read Wales / Learning Disability Wales


I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s experience. I am glad that she has such a caring person in her social network.

Sadly, because many people with learning disabilities have limited opportunities for safe social activity they are often very vulnerable to exploitation and reluctant to leave situations where people are taking advantage.

This is a safeguarding concern and you are right to have talked to her about it - and to her Mum. I understand that she may not want to take matters further but she is not the only one at risk from these people and the issue really needs to be reported to the local social services safeguarding team / police.

I think it would be worth talking to her and her Mum about it again together. There are a few questions:

  • Does this lady understand the risks to her (financial / sexual etc)?

  • Does she understand that other people may be at risk from these people?

  • Can this lady be involved in the safeguarding process?

Ideally, the lady herself should be involved in reporting the safeguarding concern; but if she does not have capacity to understand the risks, then it is a decision that should be made in her best interests (ie in discussion with her family and those who know her best). There is an additional risk to the wider community if it goes unreported.

Sometimes I have found that if people feel they are doing something to help other people to be safe,they can engage with safeguarding processes better than if it is all about them. It may be good to talk to her about what might happen to other people if she doesn’t say anything.

It is great that you have given her Surrey Police’s Easy Read info; some people find it hard to understand / retain verbal / written information so it may be worth talking to her again about it and going through it with her. This will probably help her understanding and also give you a better idea of her capacity to weigh up the risks of the situation.

There are also some online resources, which may help your friend to understand, or give you advice about what action to take (apologies if you have these already) . The Arc Safetynet booklet is helpful as it is specific about people pretending to be your friend.



I hope this information is helpful. If you need to talk to someone, you could call the police helpline or ask to speak to one of your local safeguarding team at social services. You shouldn’t have to give the lady’s name straight away if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, but they would be able to signpost you to the right people who could help.

If you google your local safeguarding service, you should find the contact details (though you’ll probably have to go through a switchboard).

I hope this is helpful and wish you the best with helping your friend to see the risks to her and other people. Again - she is fortunate to have people in her life to look out for her in this way. I hope she is able to help reduce risks to other people with your support.


this is a link to a helpful site: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/Concerned-about-your-child/

It is for concerns and info about exploitation and children /young people /teens, but a lot of the info and all the links to other sites are useful. Her parents / mum might find it useful.

It sounds like a worrying situation and important to somehow sort it out. As another Forum person Alix said, your friend and her parents are lucky to have you as a friend/supporter.

Good luck

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Thank you so much to everyone who responded. You’ve all given a lot of useful advice and many helpful links.
I will speak to her mum with all the info and she can decide what’s the best way forward. We really didn’t know what else to do before.

It’s great that there’s such a supportive online community here. :slight_smile:

Thanks again, everyone.



This is awful, can I recommend contacting Nottingham Mencap – they run an anti-hate crime service and I’m sure will be able to offer sound advice.

All the best of luck, Bev

This post may be useful in terms of identifying some other resources which could be useful:

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