11 Signs Your Partner Is Guilty Of Digital Abuse

There are so many different and damaging types of abuse, but digital abuse is one of the least talked about despite how many people are guilty of it. As its name suggests, it involves your tech devices and a controlling partner. Here are 10 signs to be aware of so you can stop this behavior in its tracks.

  1. They ask to see your phone. This request takes you by surprise. Over dinner, they suddenly ask if they can check your phone’s WhatsApp messages or Facebook inbox. They’re testing you, wanting to see if you have anything to hide, but your phone’s private! They shouldn’t have access to all of it even if you’re not doing anything dodgy behind their back
  2. He’s guilty of snooping. Maybe you’ve caught them snooping through your phone before or maybe you just have a feeling that they’ve done it (or are still doing it). It’s an unsettling feeling, sort of like coming home to discover that someone’s been looking through your drawers and cupboards.
  3. They get annoyed when they hear your phone. If it seems like your partner keeps tabs on how many times you chat to people throughout the day and then he also becomes moody when you’re on the phone a lot, chatting to your friends, it’s a red flag.
  4. He controls your friendships. He might tell you that you can’t be friends with someone on Twitter or Instagram, simply because they don’t like the look of them or they’re male so they’re immediately out of the question. Woah, controlling much?
  5. They check up on you. Digital abuse is not only about checking your phone and computer. It’s also about how your partner who’s guilty of doing it communicates with you via text or phone call. For instance, if they constantly check in with you when you’re out with friends, that’s a problem. It might seem sweet at first, but it can quickly start to feel controlling. It’s like they don’t trust who you’re with or where you are.
  6. They insult you in their status updates. This is a clear sign you’re dealing with a toxic partner, there’s no doubt about it. If they sometimes log onto Facebook or Twitter to post a status update that’s a criticism against you, that’s not cool! Of course, it might be a veiled attempt instead of something super-blatant. But still, it feels horrible, like they’re stalking you or something and it’s bringing you down. You don’t need to be belittled.
  7. They demand nudes. This is an interesting one that you might not think is abuse, but it is. If someone sends you explicit pics or videos that make you feel uneasy, and then they ignore your request for them not to keep doing it, that’s a red flag. Ditto for the person who demands you send them nude pics of yourself and won’t take no for an answer. While these behaviors alone don’t immediately signal abuse, they are worrying because they’re marked by the person’s inability to accept and respect your feelings. That’s what’s so troubling about them.
  8. They sulk when you don’t reply quickly enough. Some people act really moody when they don’t get their way, and that’s a red flag in itself. If someone is guilty of digital abuse, they might show you their controlling and manipulative behavior via text or online messages when you don’t do what they want. If they don’t get a reply to a message they sent you 10 minutes or a few hours ago, they might get angry and “punish” you, such as by ignoring your texts or calls for a while so you get a taste of your own medicine. Yeah, it’s sick, but they might do worse to “teach you a lesson.”
  9. They guilt-trip you. A big part of digital abuse is guilt. They might ask for your password or to see your messages and when you tell them no, they’ll act like you’re being shady, hiding something, or that you just don’t trust them. They might even accuse you of not wanting to have a trusting and open relationship. It’s messed up, so don’t fall for it. In the same way that any abuser will try to make you feel like you’re the bad one, someone who’s guilty of digital abuse will do the same thing.
  10. It’s easy to write it off. The thing to remember is that any abuse—whether physical, emotional, psychological, or digital—all stems from the same thing: the guy’s the problem, not you. Sadly, it’s easy to write off digital abuse as being NBD, but its underpinned by the same toxic features of other types of abuse. The best thing you can do if you think your partner is guilty of digital or other abuse is to GTFO of the relationship. You don’t need someone bringing such poison into your life. Besides, who knows when that digital abuse will lead to other forms of abuse? It’s just not worth sticking around to find out.


Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.