Digital Abuse in Teen Dating Violence

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  • By Lawanna Barron

Digital dating abuse!  Are you a victim?  Parents are you aware? According to, digital dating abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner.  This behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online. 

33% of teens in the United States are victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner. These violent relationships have serious consequences for victims – putting them at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, suicide and adult re-victimization.  Only 33% of teens who are in an abusive relationship ever tell anyone about the abuse.  81% of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue. 25% of teens report digital harassment in teen dating relationships.

Parents should be aware of the changing culture of values, norms and global technology.  February is an excellent opportunity to empower teens to develop healthy relationships and engage in discussions with family members and peers to promote awareness and prevention of the quiet epidemic of teen dating violence. Parents should inform teens that all communication must be respectful.  When communication becomes unhealthy, it could impact the teen’s safety.  Signs of digital abuse in teen dating violence are when your partner: 

    • Tells you whom you can or cannot 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, Twitter, foursquare 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, Tumblr, etc.
    • Uses any kind of technology (such as spyware or GPS in a car or on a phone) to monitor you

If a teen is being mistreated online or in abusive relationship, their health and safety may be at risk.  They need help.  If they are in immediate danger, call 911.  The Family Advocacy Program can also provide you with information and available resources by calling at 257-4805.  Also, teens can speak or chat with a peer advocate by calling 1-866-331-9474 or by texting “loveis” to 22522, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Remember, we must protect our teens in an ever-changing technological and global society.


Information for this article is from