Digital abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a person. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online.
In a healthy relationship, all communication is respectful whether in person, online or by phone. It is never okay for someone to do or say anything that makes you feel bad, lowers your self-esteem or manipulates you. You may be experiencing digital abuse if a person:
- Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with on Facebook and other sites.
- Sends you negative, insulting or even threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, DMs or other messages online.
- Uses sites like Facebook, Instagram, snapchat and others to keep constant tabs on you.
- Puts you down in their status updates.
- Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and/or demands you send some in return.
- Pressures you to send explicit video or sexts.
- Steals or insists on being given your passwords.
- Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished.
- Looks through your phone frequently, checks up on your pictures, texts and outgoing calls.
- Tags you unkindly in pictures on Instagram, etc.
- Uses any kind of technology (such as spyware or GPS in a car or on a phone) to monitor you
You never deserve to be mistreated, online or off. If you’re experiencing digital dating abuse, we encourage you to reach out to an adult you trust. Remember:
- Your partner should respect your relationship boundaries.
- It is okay to turn off your phone. You have the right to be alone and spend time with friends and family without anyone getting angry.
- You do not have to text any pictures or statements that you are uncomfortable sending, especially nude or partially nude photos or “sexting.”
- You lose control of any electronic message once the other person receives it. They may forward it, so don’t send anything you fear could be seen by others.
- You do not have to share your passwords with anyone.
- Know your privacy settings. Social networks such as Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it. These are often customizable and are found in the privacy section of the site. Remember, registering for some applications (apps) requires you to change your privacy settings.
- Be mindful when using check-ins, hashtags and location settings. These features can make your posts, activity and location public. Letting an abusive person know where you are could be dangerous. Also, always ask your friends if it’s okay for you to check them in. You never know if they are trying to keep their location secret.