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Textual Harassment

An ex-boyfriend text messaged a 22-year-old Virginia woman night and day, sometimes 20 or 30 at a time. All told, he texted and called 758 times. He wanted her back.

This story is told by Donna St. George in a Washington Post report that delves into the increasing problem of “textual harassment.” As the article points out, nearly one in four people between the ages of 14 and 24 have partners who check in several times a day to see where they are or who they are with. One woman’s partner insisted she text him photos – in front of clocks — to prove her whereabouts. Another woman told of a friend who was constantly texted by a jealous boyfriend, “It’s like the 20 questions a parent would ask.”

As an added bonus, cell phone companies may charge victims for receiving the messages.

With the advent of technology harassment is easier, and with no let up: Where r u? Who r u with? Why didnt u answer me? And the harassed often feel compelled to answer.

In fact, they may not get that they’re being abused. Friends must sometimes tell victims: “This isn’t right.”

A young woman named Kristen didn’t get that the messages were abusive. Just hours before her boyfriend killed her, she texted him: “You are being ridiculous. Why cant i do something with my friends?”

In fact, too many of these victims end up dead.

These violent relationships are typically marked by misogyny and male entitlement where men feel they should be able to define the reality of “their” women, and who expect women to submit.

Here are a few red flags that a relationship is abusive, according to the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, Oregon State University.

Does your partner:

  • Constantly put you down?
  • Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
  • Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your family or friends?
  • Make you feel like you’re nothing without him/her?
  • Intimidate or threaten you? “If you do that again, I’ll…”
  • Always say it’s your fault?
  • Pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to?
  • Glare at you, give you the silent treatment, or grab, shove, kick, or hit you?

Do you:

  • Always do what your partner wants instead of what you want?
  • Fear how your partner will act in public
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
  • Feel like you walk on eggs to avoid your partner’s anger?
  • Believe if you just tried harder, submitted more, that everything would be okay?
  • Stay with your partner because you fear what he/she would do if you broke up?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, talk to a counselor about your relationship. Remember, when one person scares, hurts or continually puts down the other person, it’s abuse.

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