Lost Signal: Dating Abuse & Your Phone

Lost Signal: Dating Abuse & Your Phone

We have a question for you: is your phone within a 3 foot radius of where you are?

It goes everywhere with you. Pocket, purse, car cup-holder, desk, locker, backpack – no matter where you keep it, you make sure it’s close. At all times. Have you ever had that swooping sensation in your stomach when you realize you don’t have your phone? We all have. And for good reason. Your phone can serve as an important tool. It keeps us connected to everyone. So why do we need to talk about phone use on a dating abuse site?

Because, like most forms of technology, it can pose a threat to someone in an abusive relationship. CNN ran an article today entitled “Nude photos and cruel messages, teen digital dating abuse grows” discussing controlling, manipulative behavior within relationships carried out over the phone.

Technology and dating abuse is a familiar topic here at loveisrespect. We’ve joined with MTV on their “A Thin Line” campaign (see the video where they get due credit), we’ve covered the development of Facebook Places, talked about online stalking, and posted general info on the topic too. But as we see sexting and phone harassment stories continually emerging, we’re reminded that some topics are worth dwelling on.

Some of our loyal followers might recognize this video:

Does this seem familiar? Does your significant other text you incessantly? The people heading up That’s Not Cool say it best with their statement, “Your mobile, IM and online accounts are all a part of you. When someone you’re dating is controlling, disrespecting or pressuring you in those spaces, that’s not cool.”

So, in the spirit of knowledge empowering you, we at loveisrespect want you to know these points about textual harassment:

-You do NOT have to take any form of harassment, whether it be explicit picture requests, someone grabbing/spying on your phone, someone answering your phone, constantly texting you, or other abusive behaviors. Need a not-so-subtle way to tell them to stop? Send a callout card.

-If you are under 18 and are producing or distributing nude or sexually suggestive photos (even of yourself to a girlfriend/boyfriend) it is considered child pornography and you could be charged with possession

-Don’t keep friends & family in the dark. Often in textual harassment cases, the parents didn’t know because text messages and phone calls are so private. Remember that your parents can help you get out of an overwhelming situation

And as always, remember we’re here to chat. Calling us at 1-866-331-9474 | 1-866-331-8453 TTY is one really great thing to do with your phone.

Comment section

2 replies
  1. I taught Health Education in 10th and 12th grade and we dealt with dating violence, as well as abuse and stalking. This was ten years ago, and it has only become worse, especially with more assertive, demanding girls, a culture revolving around teen “romance” and the worst: technology (cellphones, texting, social networking and IM’s).

    To learn disable the RFID in a cellphone (you can go to sites likehttp://www.golb.org/index.php?itemid=965 or http://www.eff.org.

    You can also purchase metal holders for your cellphone, to prohibit RFID signals from being snatched OR from letting undesirables know where you are. Often, disabling the GPS locator in your cellphone can be done (read the directions, since each phone is different).

    If a teen is unsure if they are being controlled, they should ask themselves: “Why am I obsessed with texting (or calling) my girlfriend/boyfriend 20 times a day or the minute I arrive somewhere?” I had one girl admit to controlling her boyfriend by forcing him to call WHEREVER he went and tell her whom he was with! He said it was true. I told both of them this was unhealthy and needed to stop.

    Parents should never assume that their kids are alright just because they get good grades and never get “in trouble” with schoo

  2. Thanks for commenting Sharon. You bring up some really good points about technology. The popularity (and almost inherently private nature) of texting does make it harder for parents – and friends- of a teen in an abusive situation to know what’s going on. Also, technology can sometimes be a tool for an abuser to locate, pressure or harass the abused.

    We’re glad you helped your students understand that controlling behavior, even when it comes in the form of seemingly innocent texts, is wrong and that they deserve freedom in their relationships.

    We do want to say that “a rise in assertive and demanding girls” is usually a great thing, especially if what they’re asserting and demanding is respect not only for themselves, but for everyone they come in contact with. Sharon, thanks again for commenting.

Comments are closed.

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