In many ways text messaging is a godsend. Thank the electronic powers that be for allowing humorous asides amongst friends, sweet nothings and directions/cries for help when lost or in loud places. But when it comes to dating—text messaging is beginning to earn a bum rap. And no, not just those blasted late night booty call sexts, but rather the abusive, harassing kind left by controlling and manipulative boyfriends, girlfriends and exes. In fact, textual harassment is the new term. File away.
The Washington Post this week reported on this disturbing trend of electronic paper trails left behind after a series of teenage murder cases.
Siobhan Russell was 19 when an ex-boyfriend murdered her, Demi Brae Cuccia was 16 when her recently dumped ex stabbed her, and who can forget the most recent case of 22-year-old Yeardley Love, killed by her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely V, who suspiciously grabbed her computer after the murder as if to hide a hotbed of incriminating evidence? And all murder cases had incriminating textual evidence. Of the, "you know you can't live without me" ilk, one obsessed boyfriend even employed his friends to leave incessant texts to his girlfriend while he slept. Texting Your Way To Love
Which is the good thing about the advent of cell phones. It's all recorded, baby. Or as Cindy Southworth, founder of the Safety Net Project on technology at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, says: "it's irrefutable evidence of the abuse."
The crummy thing about the advent of cell phones? One could lead a very secret unhealthy and complicated text life with parents/authorities being none the wiser.
"When I was growing up, we had one phone in the whole house, and if you were fighting with your girlfriend, everybody knew about it," Gary Cuccia, the father of the slain Demi Brae told the paper.
Seeing as it's unlikely cell phones and texting will go out of vogue, educators are now tailoring their abusive relationship talks to include what texts are appropriate and healthy and which aren't. While someone sending 100 or so threatening texts might be a no-brainer red flag to anyone that a swift cell phone number change is in order, we all remember the tangled logic of youth.
This new wrinkle of technological abuse has been combated through several legislative attempts to bring a new surge of violence and dating educational initiatives. Such topics are addressed through a teen help line called Love Is Respect and several national awareness campaigns, including MTV's effort on digital abuse, A Thin Line, a joint effort on digital dating abuse called That's Not Cool and the initiative Love Is Not Abuse.
Readers, do you know anyone who's been a victim of textual harassment? Any tips for how to end the abuse?