Digital Abuse

Digital Abuse

Being in a relationship does not mean your partner should have complete control over your every move. It’s not okay for anyone to force you to lose your individuality or autonomy to prove your faithfulness and commitment to the relationship.

It sounds logical and obvious to most, but to some of us, standing up for our rights is easier said than done. We are all too familiar with our partners’ toxic outbursts, silent treatment, or physical retaliation or threats (with or without weapons). We take on the burden of not setting our abusers off in order to protect ourselves and our children. We walk on eggshells and aim to please until we’re embedded deeply into the web of coercive control and we lose our sense of self.

Among the many facets of domestic violence is digital abuse, a form of verbal and/or emotional abuse that can include unwanted, repeated calls or text messages, pressure to send nudes and using social networking sites to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate an intimate partner. This type of abuse is particularly widespread among teens in dating relationships. But it can happen to anyone and it did happen to me.

In my experience, my ex-husband stalked my on-line activities, policed who I interacted with and coerced me to send nudes. We had been together since I was 16 and he intimidated and controlled me from the start, so this was what I knew. And I stayed in that web of coercive control for years because I thought our relationship was normal.

But when his jealousy over my social media friendships started escalating, I finally decided to stand up for my rights. So he lit my house on fire. I had invested my life enabling him to control me at such a high level that he felt justified to kill me when I stepped out of line. I almost died because I decided that I had the right to my own digital autonomy, regardless of his demands.

Know the warning signs of digital abuse. Protect yourself. Teach your children that these behaviors are unacceptable BEFORE they start dating. Spread the word about digital abuse in relationships by drawing a clear line in the sand about unacceptable behaviors. Don’t become so deeply embedded in the web of control that you end up in a situation like mine.

You are being abused if your partner:

  • Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, etc.
  • Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others to keep constant tabs on you.
  • Sends you negative, insulting or even threatening emails, messages, tweets, etc.
  • Puts you down in their status updates.
  • Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures or video and/or demands you send some in return.
  • Steals or insists to be given your passwords.
  • Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone.
  • Looks through your phone frequently, checks up on your pictures, texts and outgoing calls.

Together, we can break the silence about every form of domestic violence.

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