When people hear the words, “Domestic Violence” or “Intimate Partner Violence,” images of black eyes, swollen cheeks and split lips usually come to mind. However, in addition to physical injuries, sadly there are many other ways people have found to hurt their loved ones as well.
One of these other forms of attack is becoming increasingly more common with the use of technology — digital domestic abuse. Digital domestic abuse occurs when a spouse or intimate partner uses email, social media, mobile applications, text or other forms of technology to stalk, harass, intimidate or threaten their partner.
This digital domestic abuse happens every day in today’s society, but that does not make it ok.
Sending harassing text messages or emails, or logging into their partner’s social media site without permission and posting explicit content of or about them are common examples of digital domestic abuse.
It is also digital domestic violence when someone stalks their spouse by secretly tracking their location through a phone app and then interrogates them about where they went and why.
These kinds of behaviors are becoming more and more prevalent as technology continues to make it easier to stay connected.
Victim Advocates with Army Community Service say they have seen a significant increase in the use of social media to degrade and humiliate partners.
“Spouses may post things like ‘my spouse is fat and lazy’ on their own social media pages. Post like that, even on someone else’s page, destroys the victim’s self-esteem,” says one victim advocate.
With the common use of social media and mobile apps, partners have more accessibility to their victims and more avenues through which to hurt them.
“Posting pictures without their spouse’s consent, which are intimate and never meant to be seen outside of the relationship, can lead to the loss of a job and extreme embarrassment when Family, friends or peers see them. We didn’t see this kind of abuse years ago,” the victim advocate reports.
In such instances, before the victim even realizes any demeaning content has been posted, the devastating effects might already have occurred.
Digital domestic abuse should never be tolerated in a relationship.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a great resource for victims of intimate partner abuse of any kind — physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or digital. They provide crisis intervention, immediate support, education and resources for victims of abuse.
Everyone deserves to be in a healthy relationship.
Here are some key points to remember:
Your partner should respect your relationship boundaries.
It is ok to turn off your phone. You have the right to be alone and spend time with friends and Family without having to answer to your spouse.
You do not have to text anyone pictures or statements that you are uncomfortable sending, especially nude or partially nude photos, known as “sexting.” You lose control of any electronic content sent. Once your partner receives it, they may forward it on, so don’t send anything you don’t want others to see.
You do not have to, nor should you, share your passwords with anyone.
Know your privacy settings. Social networks such as Facebook allow users 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 require you to change your privacy settings.
Be mindful when using “check-ins” like Facebook Places and Foursquare. Letting others, especially an abusive partner, know where you are could be dangerous. If you feel you must “check-in” on social media, always ask your friends before you check them in along with you. They might not want their location broadcast for their own safety.
You have the right to feel comfortable and safe in your relationship and online.
If you or someone you know is being hurt or need to talk to someone, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE (7233) or live chat with someone online at www.thehotline.org. Domestic Abuse Victim Advocates are also available 24/7 at 322-3418 to speak with any Soldier or spouse/intimate partner who needs help.
For more information, visit the Fort Bragg Army Community Service Victim Advocacy Program at https://bragg.armymwr.com/programs/vap or call 396-5521.