According to Love is Respect.org,“Digital dating abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online.”
In both our counseling services and our prevention programs we have heard from teens and young adults that sexual abuse perpetrated through technology is common and has a lasting impact. Sometimes this abuse shows up as sexual harassment or sexualized bullying on social networking platforms. Other times, it is coercion or manipulation that includes pressure to share sexual images or threats to share personal images without consent. There is also sexual exploitation that happens through social media or dating sites which can fall under the trafficking umbrella. All of these examples fall under our umbrella of sexual violence. Survivors of all these types of digital violence and abuse have a right to access healing services at SARCC.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these forms is online abuse, know that you have options both online and offline for help. Online, you can report abusive behavior, block the perpetrator, or interrupt problematic behavior when you see it with either on or offline comments or direct messages. Pervasive or continued harassment can be documented with logs or screen shots and can be reported to police, school officials, or in workplaces. A SARCC advocate can help a survivor explore options for reporting, protection orders, or title IX or EEOC complaints as appropriate.
In our prevention programs, we discuss digital abuse and safe bystander intervention strategies in online spaces. We also work through our Project Changemakers curricula to teach strategies for online and social media norms setting and marketing skills. The bright side of online platforms is that they can also be used for social good.
Resource of the Week:What is Digital Abuse?