Unmasking Digital Domestic Abuse – Spot it and Stop it

unmasking digital domestic abuse spot it and stop it.jpg Technology

In the era of pervasive technology and social media, an insidious form of exploitation is on the rise: digital abuse. This form of abuse, as defined by the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline’s support project, Love is Respect, involves the use of technology platforms such as texting and social media to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a partner. This can range from controlling who you interact with on social media, to constant surveillance through social networks, spyware, or location sharing tools, to outright theft of your passwords.

A recent survey by social network Communia divulges some alarming statistics on the extent of digital abuse. Nearly one-third of the 2,000 UK women and individuals of other marginalized genders surveyed reported having a partner who controlled or attempted to control their social media interactions. The issue is particularly pronounced among younger respondents, with 41% of 16-24-year-olds experiencing such control. Moreover, the LGBTQ community is disproportionately affected, with 61% reporting digital interactions control by a partner.

Navigating the Dark Side of Technology: Digital Abuse

Understanding Digital Abuse

In the digital age, online abuse and harassment are well-known hazards of social media. But there’s another, less-visible form of abuse tied to technology: digital abuse. According to ‘Love is Respect’, an initiative by the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline, digital abuse is the utilization of technology—like texting and social media—to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. This can take the form of controlling whom you interact with online, tracking your location through social networks, or even stealing your passwords.

The Many Forms of Digital Domestic Abuse

This abuse can manifest in various ways, according to ‘Love is Respect’ and the Metropolitan Police. It can involve controlling your online accounts, sending negative or threatening messages, cyberflashing, pressuring you to send explicit images, posing as you on social media, or even taking away your devices.

The Prevalence of Digital Abuse

A survey by social network Communia, which included over 2,000 UK women and people of other marginalized genders, revealed that 29 percent have had a partner control or try to control their social media interactions. The issue is most prominent among younger people, with 41 percent of 16-24 year-old respondents experiencing this form of control. The LGBTQ community is also significantly affected, with 61 percent of respondents reporting digital abuse.

Seeking Help for Digital Abuse

If you’re a victim of digital abuse, remember: you have the right to privacy and to disconnect from your devices without causing anger. ‘Love is Respect’ and the Metropolitan Police suggest setting strong passwords, understanding the privacy settings on your social media accounts, and turning off location sharing.

In the U.S., you can seek help online at loveisrespect.org, or by texting "loveis" to 22422, or calling 1-866-331-9474. In the UK, resources are available through the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline and the Met Police. For victims of sexual abuse, the National Sexual Assault hotline provides confidential support at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or online at online.rainn.org.


Digital abuse is a serious and prevalent issue in our increasingly connected world. Particularly alarming is the rate at which it affects young and marginalized individuals. It’s crucial to be aware of these dangers and to know how to protect oneself. If you or someone you know is experiencing digital abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out to the resources mentioned above. Remember, everyone deserves respect and safety, both online and off.

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