Digital Dating Abuse

July 28, 2011

Most of us have heard about cyberbullying, but what about “Digital Dating Abuse?” The difference between cyberbullying and digital dating abuse is that cyberbullying usually involves at least two people who don’t like one another, while digital dating abuse usually involves two people who usually like one another and are attracted or dating one another. Although different, there are similarities between cyberbullying and digital dating abuse, which include:

  • A desire to assert power and control over the target or partner
  • Both involve technology
  • Can lead to negative emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical abuse

According to a 2009 study conducted by MTV on digital abuse:

  • 22% of young people interviewed felt like their significant other digitally checked up on them too often
  • 10% of teens reported that their partner demanded their passwords from them
  • 17% of teens reported that they felt threatened or manipulated by their partner online
  • Nearly 20% of those who received a sext and shared it with someone else
  • More that 50% of young people who shared a sext have shared it with multiple people

Again, digital dating abuse is any form of abusive behavior between partners that takes place through a digital medium such as Facebook, Twitter, texts, and even email. Digital dating abuse can include:

  • Repeated text messaging wanting to know the who, what, where, when, how, and why of what you are doing
  • Hacking or spying on a partner’s social network or email account
  • Posing as the partner on a Social Network to exert control by altering the page or online profile
  • Flooding a social network page with negative messages about the relationship
  • Pressuring a partner to send a sexually explicit message (sexts)
  • Constantly going through your cell phone log and asking questions about who you have been talking or texting to

Digital dating abuse is not something that should be taken lightly, as often it can lead to physical abuse. So what can you do if you are being targeted? Here’s what MTV and the experts recommend which I also support:

  1. Communicate: If you don’t like what is going on talk to your partner about which behaviors are upsetting you.
  2. Keep your passwords secret: When pressured by your partner share your password, don’t do it. Remember that “NO” is a complete sentence and has no room for negotiation. If your partner doesn’t respect your non-willingness to provide your password to them, this is a strong indication that they have control issues.
  3. Trust your gut: If you don’t like what your partner is saying online about you, tell a friend, a parent, teacher or someone else who can help you.
  4. Report it: If things continue to escalate to the point where your partner is making threats or demands, report it to the police.
  5. Draw your line: There is no need for you to settle for a relationship that doesn’t give you any breathing room. Take control. Delete, unfriend, and defend your digital and real-world domain.

Digital Food For Thought

Darren Laur AKA #thewhitehatter

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