Likes, retweets, and comments pepper our phone screens all day long. Social media is an outlet for us to share the way we feel, instantly. Social media has also provided a platform for building domestic violence awareness, with the use of the hashtag #MeToo and #WhyIStayed, as well as providing resources for victims in dangerous situations.

Most people do not recognize social media as a source of potential domestic violence. The United States Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats that influence another person.” Social media is a platform for psychological victimization to take place, with the potential for abuse to occur anywhere from direct messaging to comment sections.

Below are tips you can keep in mind when posting on your own social media as well as when tagging friends. It is important to remember there may be more to the story behind a perfectly curated Instagram account or casually tagged Facebook photo.

  • Ask before you post videos, images, or information about friends. You never know the repercussions of something you post about someone in an abusive relationship. Some posts can contribute to the initial “Build Up” step in an abusive relationship – a victim can be condemned for something they are tagged in on social media. Social media gives abusers the power to know about an individual’s whereabouts and activities. An innocent Snapchat story or Instagram location tag could have the power to endanger an individual, so it is always best to think twice before sharing.
  • Everything you post on the internet has the power to be shared. From birthdays, to your place of employment, the information we release to the internet is eligible for anyone to see. Keep this in mind when sharing certain details about you or your friends’ activities. For more information on how private information can be shared, check out the Domestic Violence Hotline Tech Safety resources.
  • Ensure that your location isn’t being shared without your knowledge. GPS tracking is built in to certain features on apps like Snapchat and Facebook. Review the Location Services in your phone’s general settings. Location tracking can greatly hinder a victim in an attempt to escape a violent situation. For more information, LifeHacker demonstrates how to disable Location Services on Android and iOS.

Psychological damage resulting from social media is just one aspect of domestic violence. Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support is present as a resource in our community for women going through any and all experiences. Whether you need short-term housing, a safe escape plan, or counseling, Genesis is here to walk beside you and guide you or someone you love to safety. Click here to learn more about the services Genesis provides for the Dallas community.

Written by Jolie Guz, SMU Student,