Thursday, October 7, 2010

New form of dating violence: text messaging

Wrote this a few months ago and it's shorter than it would be ordinarily, since I was going to send it into a blog but never did...

A recent Washington Post article ( describes how text messaging is being used as a form of harassment among dating couples. Jealous partners will text their significant others at all times of day and night to find out what they are doing, who they are with, or simply to demand attention. They do so repeatedly; in one case in the article, a woman would receive up to 30 messages at a time from her boyfriend. Similar stories have surfaced, and have resulted in death.

As the article suggests, because texts are easier to hide, it makes it more difficult to know about the problem and help the victim. This is only more reason to find programs that prevent these situations in the first place. There are two basic approaches to reaching young people directly: addressing the potential perpetrator, or addressing the potential victim.

While the mainstream media tends to blame the victim in gender-based violence—i.e. a woman walking alone at night is at fault for taking such a “risk”—feminists fight to ensure that perpetrators receive the blame they deserve. Going along with this, it is important to understand how victims (most often women) end up in abusive relationships to begin with. Although a relationship may not be physically abusive, constant harassment and threats is also a form of abuse.

Women and girls grow up surrounded by a society that essentially persuades them to seek male approval. In other words, we are taught that we are only beautiful if we are able to get a boyfriend. This is at least partially to blame for how women and girls get into abusive relationships—because they want to fit in, no matter the cost. To make matters worse, it is even more difficult to leave an abusive relationship.

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