Dating should be fun and exciting, but more importantly, dating should be safe and involve mutual respect. According to a 2013 survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 10% of high school students report they have been victimized by their dating partner.  Physical and sexual abuse are the most common forms of dating violence; however, digital abuse is also recognized as a form of dating violence. 

Digital abuse is the use of technology, such as a cell phone or social media, to threaten, intimidate, or harass a current or ex-dating partner.  This may be done by sending excessive texts or messages, social media stalking, demanding to know account passwords, or dictating who a partner is able to communicate with on social media.  Some abusers may pressure their partner to engage in sexting activity and use the pictures as blackmail to force their partner to do something they would not normally do, something they do not want to do, or as a way to keep their partner from breaking up with them.

Did you know that victims of dating violence are more at risk for drug and alcohol misuse, teen pregnancy, symptoms of depression or anxiety, and thoughts of suicide?  Help protect yourself and your friends by being aware of the warning signs of abuse in dating relationships.Some of the most common red flags of an unhealthy or abusive relationship are a partner checking your phone or email without your permission, showing extreme jealously or insecurity, isolating you from family or friends, and telling you what to do.  

If you or someone you know is experiencing digital abuse or other forms of dating violence, help is available.  For more information and resources on teen dating violence, intimate partner violence, healthy relationships, or parenting, contact your local Family Advocacy Program office.  Other resources include Military One Source, www.loveisrespect.org, and www.thehotline.org.