SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - It's a disturbing situation, a teen is sexually assaulted, then the attackers and bystanders take and post pictures of the assault on social media.
It happened in Steubenville, Ohio and now in California.
Three teenage boys are accused of sexually assaulting a female classmate and then posting photos online. Investigators said 15-year-old Audrie Pott passed out at a house party in early September and was then assaulted by three of her classmates. They said the boys took pictures of the attack and posted them on social media. Pott killed herself shortly after the pictures surfaced.
The three teens were arrested Friday morning and are expected to be formally charged next week.
If a sexual assault isn't bad enough, this is reportedly the third time in recent months where pictures of teenagers involved in these types of attacks were posted online.
"It sounds like they could have been traumatized not just once, but twice," said Debby Lagrand with Bootheel Counseling Services.
The initial attack is bad enough, but when the attackers and bystanders post photos of the attack online, it feels like a second assault.
"The social media trauma is sometimes an ongoing persistent thing as things don't disappear from the Internet," said Lagrand.
Lagrand said when someone goes through something like this, the victim will most likely experience trauma symptoms.
"Perhaps feelings of horror, feelings of fear, feelings that perhaps they needed help," said Lagrand.
Lagrand said victims might feel numb and not want to talk about the initial attack, or the online posts.
For the past few days, counselors at Bootheel have been going through a special trauma treatment training.
After an assault, Lagrand said certain things could be a trigger for the victim, making them feel similar emotions to the attack. But when pictures of the actual assault are posted online, it can be more than a trigger.
"They can be trauma triggers and they can be a new trauma itself," said Lagrand.
So why would someone take and post the assault photos?
"One, they have spectators, it's a very public thing, so they get that social encouragement of feeling like they're doing something really big sometimes," said Lagrand.
If you see something like this posted online, you can contact the social media website to have them take it down.
One parent tells me she teaches her to kids, if someone sends them inappropriate pictures or videos, don't pass them along, the chain should end with them.
If you've been a victim of an attack, or cyber bullying, Lagrand encourages you to not keep quiet.
"Talk to people about it, talk to your teachers about it, talk to your family about it," said Lagrand.
If you or someone you know is a victim and needs someone to talk to, you can call Bootheel Counseling Services at 573-471-0800 or the hotline at 1-800-356-5395.