A lot of our lives these days are lived online. And creating online relationships (romantic or otherwise) can be a great opportunity to meet people you may not have been able to meet otherwise. It’s important to remember that it’s very easy to bully online and online relationships, just like real-life ones, can be unhealthy.
Signs of an abusive relationship, online or offline:
While there are similarities between abuse in real-life relationships and online relationships, the harm of online relationships is different. It’s easier for abusers to keep regular tabs on your whereabouts or online activity. The abuse occurs on the same platforms you use to interact with friends and family, making you feel like it’s inescapable. Once the abuse starts, it can escalate quickly. Finally, it may even happen in public spaces.
Signs you may be in an unhealthy online relationship. Has someone:
If you’re in an abusive relationship, whether it’s online or offline, get help. Take screenshots of the messages and posts that the person has sent you in case they later delete them. Talk to friends, parents, teachers or other people you trust. If your partner has threatened violence, contact the police.
If there is no one you can or want to talk to in person, call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. A number of crisis hotlines across the country are listed here.
Friends can play an important role in preventing or leaving an unhealthy relationship. What friends can do to help:
For additional resources on online safety, visit www.mediasmarts.ca
And remember, it’s never your fault. Talking about what’s going on and how it makes you feel is not being disloyal. Don’t blame yourself for the things you’ve done, like sharing passwords or photos. Nothing you do ever gives someone the right to abuse you.
This post is courtesy of the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Visit www.canadianwomen.org for the original tip sheet.
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