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DV Types You Don't Know: Digital Abuse (Tied for #2)

Updated: Feb 13

For DV Awareness Month 2021 (DVAM2021), we told you we would focus on the types more of us don't know. We surveyed participants of our DV Awareness Training sessions conducted in September 2021 and are dedicating this month to top 3 types they had never heard of before.

See the photo of the results below:


Digital Abuse and Revenge Porn tied at number 2 & 3 with 43.75% of respondents naming it as a type of DV they had never heard of prior to the training.


This blog's focus: Digital Abuse.

Definition: The use of technologies, such as texting and social media, to bully, harrass, stalk, or intimidate the victim. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online.

You may have already seen it but not recognized it. Here are some ways it might look taken from JoinOneLove.org:

  1. Coercive. "When someone pressures or harasses you to do things that you are not comfortable doing."

  2. Controlling. "When someone is dominating and attempts to control or gain power over you."

  3. Degrading. "When someone belittles and devalues you.

  4. Embarrassing. When somone theatens to share embarrassing information about you, or posts personal or intimate information in public places.

Bear in mind, this behavior will not always manifest itself overtly; it can be subversive as well. Have you ever seen a couple's Facebook argument? They're having a conversation they could clearly have at home, yet it's happening on a public thread instead.


One is saying things like, "I figured you'd want to do this for me, but since I was somehow wrong for expecting that, let's hear what our Facebook friends have to say. What do you guys think? Shouldn't she want to take care of her man better than that?"


The whole point is to bully her into behavior she was otherwise refusing, and to get the Facebook family to do the dirty work. The bonus is that by doing this online, they hope to intensify whatever gaslighting they have already done to the victim to get her to think something is wrong with her for not wanting to do whatever this thing is.


That behavior can be any of the 4 items above or any combination of those 4 behaviors listed above.


The National Center for Health Research tells us these staggering facts about the damage to the body following emotional abuse [remember, digital abuse often uses technology to deepen the abuser's hold of emotional abuse on their victim]:

Chronic Conditions:

  • Lower back pain

  • Headaches

  • Memory loss

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Digestive disease/Gastrointestinal conditions

More Severe Conditions:

  • Diabetes

  • Asthma

  • Hypertension

  • Stroke

  • Heart disease

The National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine sheds light on more impact on victims of DV, whether physical, sexual, or psychological in nature, which means if someone has suffered digital abuse, she may be dealing with one or more of these conditions in or outside of pregnancy:

Chronic-to-Serious Conditions:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Chronic pain

  • Substance Use

Poor Pregnancy Outcomes, Some Life-Threatening to Child/Mother:

  • Fetus/Newborn, including:

  • Intrauterine growth restriction

  • Pre-term birth

  • Low birth weight

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) admission

  • Mother, including

  • Gestational hypertension

  • Vaginal bleeding

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Severe nausea

  • Vomiting or dehydration

  • Prenatal and/or postpartum depression

A study conducted by Florida State University uncovered these little-known, serious, and life-threatening conditions resulting from DV:

Little-Known or Ignored Conditions:

  • Speech problems, like stuttering

  • Migraines

  • Vision impairment, up to 20% reduction in visual field due to stress

  • Chest pain, due to PTSD

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Ulcers

  • Abdominal pain

  • Dysmenorrhea (disorders surrounding the menstruation cycle)

  • Suicidal Ideations & Behaviors (considering or acting upon suicidal thoughts)

Serious or Life-Threatening Conditions:

  • Cancer, including cervical

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Autoimmune diseases

  • Hemorrhage

  • Heart attack, including stress-related heart attacks

Thankfully, there is help.

  1. There is an effective and culturally-responsive crisis agency: Nisaa African Family Services right here in Des Moines, Iowa. African women face many of the same types of societal and community-based expectations that African-American women face, and they are equipped to take care of our Black women during crisis. They ask that Black victims channel through us at Courageous Fire, LLC. Call us at 515-428-0077 and say "connect me to Nisaa" to get help.

  2. There are FREE lock-change services: Union of Black America. Simply call the toll free number, 515-381-6757 and tell them, "I need my locks changed" and then tell them the safest way for them to reach you. They will take care of the rest.

  3. There is mental health support from Black trauma-informed therapists available: CFire Recommended Black Therapist List. We have vetted this list and stand behind the integrity of each therapist on this list. We highly recommend that you decide what you want, and don't want, from therapy and ask them for a conversation prior to filling out official intake forms because this typically includes talking about your whys for therapy, including your story. Talk first, decide if you feel this clinician is right for you, then move forward if it feels right. Trust yourself.

  4. There is help with safety planning - a set of actions which can lower your risk of being hurt by your partner. We have found the National Domestic Violence Hotline to still be the best at helping victims make plans specific to their situation. Visit their website: thehotline.org or call them 24/7 at 800-799-7233 to access their phone advocates.

  5. There is a way NOT to go back to the DV cycles after this relationship. Empowerment through the Arts™ . This 6-week program has been proven to be effective for its developer and our founder, Courageous Fire, along with the focus groups who have participated over 1 year ago in not re-entering future DV cycles. Sign up is always available and accessible at the link above. Groups are full at 4 participants each.

Life Beyond Victimization - Abuse Reparations We want you to see some incredible examples of one of our founding philsophies - abuse reparations. This is a term we coined to describe this process:

  1. A Beautiful is victimized by DV

  2. She puts distance between herself and the abusive relationship

  3. She begins to have what we like to call awakenings - she discovers some specific type of clever resilience she possesses now that either did not exist prior to the abuse OR has been strengthened through the experience

  4. She decides how she will combine her unique talents and that clever resilience into some type of business, project, initiative, etc.

  5. She. Gets. PAID = Abuse Reparations

We can show you better than we can tell you so... We're broadcasting a special edition of #OurTalks this month featuring 3 Beautifuls - Black women, DV survivors, and abuse reparations beneficiaries. You don't wanna miss this broadcast; this is how we show flowers after the torrential rains of abuse.

Go to our home page right here on this website to get registered for our Facebook live show and RSVP: Link. We showed you the top 2 abuse type that folks didn't know. Stay right here this month to learn about the other one that tied with Digital Abuse for 2nd place - right here during Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2021! #DVAM2021 #LesserKnownTypesOfDV #NowYaKnow #CourageousEducation



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