Putting an end to Digital Dating Abuse

What is digital dating abuse?

It is the use of technologies such as text and social media platforms to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Popular social media apps include Snapchat and Instagram, as well as dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Grindr and HER.

Digital abuse, along with relationship abuse in general, is about control and power for one person in the relationship.

One example of use of power in relationships, as related to technology, is if your partner asks for your phone password or login credentials for your e-mail account or other social media accounts. Another is example is if your partner requires you to have your location on in apps like Snapchat, so they can track your location, then use it against you by distributing or threatening to distribute photos or text without your consent.

Chelsey Getz, from The Center for Family Safety and Healing in Columbus, Ohio, showed a video to demonstrate how an abuser in a relationship hides the abuse under the notion that they love you, so their abusive actions seem justified.

She also shared with the group that one in six students report abuse via technology, and one in three college students have given their partner their password to their phone, email or social media.

What can you do to prevent digital dating abuse?

First, Getz recommends becoming familiar with how your phone works and to update its privacy settings. There are ways to see who is using your accounts, like Facebook and Google+. Turn off your location on your phone.

If you are texting someone and they keep asking for explicit photos, videos or other information you do not want to give out, send them a funny meme or stop responding.

If you are in an abusive relationship, seek out help by calling the Domestic Violence National Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE, or by using local resources.

If you’re a friend and are worried about someone, or want help in starting the conversation with a friend who may be in an abusive relationship, Getz suggested the myPlan App – an app that helps identify, navigate and provide resources for people you care about who might be experiencing abuse. 

—Submitted by Molly O’Malley, assistant director of diversity, equity and inclusion, and Title IX coordinator

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