Men and women are equally vulnerable to domestic abuse online

Domestic abuse is not a new problem in the U.S. O
n average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. And when it comes to sexual domestic violence, women are far more likely to be victims. But what happens when this domestic abuse moves online?

The Data and Society Research Institute decided to take a closer look. They asked 3,000 Americans over the phone about whether they have experienced abusive behaviours by current or past romantic partners. The study defined these online abusive behaviours as, “physical threats, monitoring of the victim’s online activities, stalking the victim, or threatening to post nude or nearly nude photos of the victim online.”

Overall, 12% of the participants admitted to being victims of digital domestic abuse. This holds true for both male and female participants.

“We have this world view that women are the victims and men are the perpetrators. This silences the men who are victims,” said Michele Ybarra, the lead researcher.

While men and women face a fairly equal amount of digital domestic abuse, the statistic is much greater for “Americans ages 15-29; those who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB); and those with lower levels of education and household income.”

The Data and Society Research Institute found that digital domestic abuse was often an extension of the behaviour that was happening in person: “technology is just facilitating not being in a safe relationship,” Ybarra said.

Looking for the bright side? There is a digital footprint for online abuse, which makes it easier for law enforcement officials to track down suspects.

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