Breakups are a difficult time for any couple, but they can be an especially difficult and potentially dangerous time for teens in abusive relationships. Even if you’re able to leave the relationship safely, the abusive partner can still cause harm from afar in a variety of ways. Technology and social media create new spaces where abuse can take place. This is called digital dating violence or digital abuse, and it is just as unacceptable as any other form of abuse.
Even if your ex-partner did not exhibit abusive behaviors during the relationship, there’s still a possibility that feelings of anger, hurt, sadness, loneliness, or loss of control could lead them to become abusive online. They could hack into your email accounts or send unwanted emails, post unwanted messages or pictures on social media sites, or create fake profiles to harass you and people you know. If your ex is harassing you online, here are some ways to handle it:
If you are experiencing digital dating violence from an ex or current partner, a good resource is the DIY Feminist Guide to Cybersecurity.
You are Not Alone. If you or someone you know thinks they are experiencing digital dating violence, chat with a trusted adult or seek help from one of the organizations listed below. Often digital dating violence may be part of a continuum of gender-based violence that can be both online and in person. There are confidential safe support services available for you.
Spark Teen Digital Dating Violence Project
This document is a part of BCSTH’s Teen Digital Dating Violence Toolkit for Teens. This document, or any portion thereof, may be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever as long as acknowledgment to the BC Society of Transition Houses is included in the product.
This document was published March 2022.
Adapted for Canada from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, USA.