Do you ever take a look at your relationship and consider that the way you treat your partner is unhealthy? It can be an extremely difficult realization for anyone to come to. It might be that your partner has finally walked out or has threatened divorce, or the law has gotten involved and you are left behind knowing that things have to change. To successfully move forward and really break the cycle, you must not minimize or deny your role in the situation, but instead take responsibility for all of your actions. As long as you are willing to educate yourself on what it means to be in a healthy relationship, get professional help and make a commitment to bettering yourself, you can begin to create healthier relationships.
Usually, when you hear the term “domestic abuse”, images of physical violence and battering come into our mind. We picture someone who comes to school or work with a black eye, or a broken arm without any good explanation for it, especially if this happens more than once. However, a growing problem in today’s world is not something you can see, it’s all mental and visual and is called “digital abuse”. It’s a type of controlling and bullying behavior that occurs online via social networking sites, or through text messaging that is disrespectful, lowers the partner’s self-esteem or manipulates them to do something or act a certain way. Basically, one person wants to gain the upper hand over the other person by checking up on them, stalking their online interactions or posting negative and hurtful things about them, therefore causing emotional stress.
Online abuse is something that has unfortunately become more and more prevalent amongst teenagers. In one study from the Urban Institute, researchers surveyed 5,647 young adults in 10 northeastern schools. A whopping 26% of dating teens reported experiencing online abuse from boyfriends/girlfriends and 17% said they were bullied by friends.
When reviewing your relationship, one of the first things you should ask yourself is do you feel like you trust each other? If you are exhibiting any of the following types of behavior, you aren’t being loyal, caring and attentive but instead are exhibiting unhealthy, overbearing and possessive behavior:
1. You ask or steal passwords on the sly so you can monitor online activity.
2. You look through his or her phone, checking emails, texts and/or recent calls without permission.
3. You post pictures and tag your partner in compromising or embarrassing situations.
4. You constantly text your partner asking questions like “Who are you with?” or “What are you doing?” and become angry if they don’t respond right away.
5. You make your partner feel like they have to constantly be monitoring their phone for any word from you for fear of reprisal.
6. You demand or send explicit pictures without approval.
7. You monitor who your partner is “friends” with on social media sites.
Think about how you are treating your partner. If you are suffocating them with constant calls, texts or by monitoring them with technology, it’s a type of abusive behavior that is unhealthy and unsafe. Your partner has a right to talk to whomever she/he wants to and if you want the relationship to last long-term, it’s time to get help.