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As the world continues to practice physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, youth may find their relationships moving to the digital space. While social media is a great way to express yourself and stay connected with your friends, it can also be misused. Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship, in-person as well as online. Digitally abusive behaviour is not acceptable, and it could be illegal.

What is Cyber Dating Violence?

Cyber dating violence is abuse, threats, or harassment through technology such as social networking sites, text messages, or emails. This can include:

  • Controlling and monitoring social media presence, including friends and content
  • Using social media (e.g., insulting public posts, exclusion), texts, or messages online to insult or belittle
  • Sending unwanted explicit pictures and videos and/or demanding partner to send them (this is often illegal)
  • Stealing or insisting on password access
  • Constantly texting and demanding to know where partner is/what partner is doing
  • Looking through partner’s phone frequently and checking on activity
  • Using any kind of technology to monitor activity or location without consent

Experiencing dating violence is linked to many negative consequences, including mental and physical health impacts, decreased academic performance, and problems in future interpersonal relationships. Approximately 30% of Canadian youth are victimized by dating violence at one point in their lifetime.

If you’re experiencing dating violence or an unhealthy relationship, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that help is available.

 Reporting Cyber Dating Violence

  • Sharing your account passwords might feel like a way to build trust or connect with a partner but can be a big risk. Don’t share your passwords with your partner.
  • Adjust your privacy settings to reduce the amount of information people can see on your social media pages.
  • Avoid posting private information to your or your friend’s accounts.
  • Don’t respond to harassing, abusive or inappropriate comments. It won’t make the person stop and it could get you in trouble or even put you in danger.
  • Keep a record of all harassing messages, posts, and comments in case you decide to tell the police or get a restraining order.
  • Always report inappropriate behavior to site administrators.

How to Help a Friend or Family Member urges you to be careful what you post about your friend if they are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Pictures, locations, check-ins and even simple statements can be used to control or hurt them. If you’re unsure of what’s ok to post, get your friend’s permission before you click “Share.”

See the “How to Make a Difference” section of our website for more information on preventing and responding to youth dating violence.

Additional Resources for Assistance:

If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety, call 9-1-1.

Visit the Need Help Now? section of our website for a list of organizations you can contact through phone, text, or email.