Social Media & Teen Dating Abuse

A recent study from the Urban Institute has found 26 percent of youth in romantic relationships state that their partner had “digitally abused” them over the last year through
texts, email or social media.

The study reports that the most prevalent form of digital abuse is tampering with a partner’s social media account. More than 1 out of 12 youth reported that their partner used their social media account without their permission.

Members of the MyStrength Club, a young men’s club facilitated by WEAVE staff at a local high school, related tampering with partner’s social media to that of reading others’ texts, emails and looking at the phone log, which they often see among their peers.  A controlling partner may secretly look at their partner’s phone to check photos, texts, and recent phone calls to ensure they do not have any private interactions without their knowledge. The digital realm has created new ways for abusers to isolate their partner from friends and family by instilling a fear that they could get “caught” with texts or photos that their partner doesn’t approve of.

Digital harassment is a red flag for other abuse.

This finding in the report shows most of those digitally abused have also experienced emotional or psychological abuse (84%). In addition, more than half (52%) report also being physically abused and 33% report sexual abuse.  Digital abuse is rarely an isolated occurrence, and is an early warning that more levels of abuse may be on its way.

Digital abuse is just one of the many ways an abusive partner can use their power to control their partner’s behavior and restrict their independence. To find out the rest of the findings of this report, click here:

For more information on teen dating violence, or to schedule a workshop for youth or adults on youth relationship abuse, contact Michael Minnick, Youth Violence Prevention Coordinator at or 916.319.4992.

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Filed under Staff Voices, Teen Dating Violence

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