Living in an age where everything is online, including dating, can often be convenient. However, what happens when this takes a dangerous turn? Someone is on the other end controlling your every move and not giving the respect you deserve. Digital dating abuse has risen and is now quite common.
The National Domestic Hotline statistics show that one in four teenagers on average are abused online and one in three college students have given their partner their passwords for their computer, email, or social media. These students are more likely to be involved in digital dating abuse.
What is digital dating abuse?
Women’s Freedom Center, a nonprofit organization that supports women and are raising awareness on digital dating abuse, defines digital dating abuse as a form of abuse where a person is emotionally and verbally abused via the internet. It can be through text, social media, or any online tool. These tools can be used to “send nude or private pictures or videos, and the use of social networking sites such as Facebook to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a boyfriend/girlfriend,” says Women’s Freedom Center. There are many different things that can classify what digital dating abuse looks like. This includes behaviors such as telling someone who they can have as friends on social media friends, pressuring to send explicit photos or videos to someone, or keeping tabs on what you do online.
What does digital dating abuse look like?
The National Domestic Violence Hotline describes a few behaviors. A digital dating abuser:
- Steals your passwords
- Constantly texts you and puts a fear in you, where you must text this person back
- Looks through your phone frequently and is constantly checking on who you are speaking with and going through personal pictures.
- Pressures you for explicit videos and pictures, as well as controlling your social media life on what you can and cannot do.
How can you stay digitally safe?
One should always remember that having a healthy relationship means giving one another space, communication and showing respect. As mentioned earlier there are many different signs that show an unsafe relationship. There are ways to stay digitally safe and Verywell Mind, a health site, mentions a few:
- Be careful when putting in a location; this gives an advantage to a stalker
- Don’t send any photos or video of you through private messaging
- Always keep your online accounts secure by constantly checking your setting
- Don’t feel that you must share your phone and don’t hand over your phone to anyone because it gives them easy access
Are there any tips for surviving digital dating abuse?
It is difficult for anyone to leave an abusive relationship, especially if the abuser has control of all aspects of a victim’s social media life and in one click ruin a person’s reputation. However, gaining control back into your life can be done. IFAS Extension, a collaborative resource site run by the University of Florida, reminds everyone that we have the right to our own privacy and that we shouldn’t feel obliged to let others have access to our phone or computer.
If you are a victim of digital dating abuse, you can find help at the National Domestic Violence Hotline by dialing 1−800−799−7233 or visiting thehotline.org.