During Domestic Violence Awareness month there's more light being shed on the amount of teens who find themselves in abusive relationships. One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. And there's something else we need to look out for, digital abuse.
For most teens their cell phones are practically glued to their hands. Interacting with friends and constantly staying in the loop on social media sites. But what seems like normal communication to them could translate to digital abuse in relationships.
"If a person texts you continuously demanding to know where you are and who you're with, or they try to control who you're friends with on social media telling you you can and can't talk to this person. Or maybe they harass you by posting mean or intimidating pictures to you," Sheltering Wings Executive Director, Cassie Martin said.
Martin says digital abuse has become a growing problem in the high schools her team visits to talk about health relationships.
"Students who will come to us and say I sent these pictures to my boyfriend or girlfriend and I know that I shouldn't have and now they're holding me hostage per say."
Digital abuse also includes using social media to keep constant tabs on a person, sending unwanted explicit pictures or demanding they send them, or going through a persons phone to see who they've been talking to. All actions that are easily hidden from parents.
"If they don't know then they can't ask those questions. That's why it's so important for parents to take initiative to be involved in their kids lives. Get to know their friends."
In talking to local students Sheltering Wings advocates say one of the biggest rewards comes from the students who admit they thought this behavior was normal.
"To help the person who is doing the abusing to understand their role in it and for them to recognize that and say they want to make a change that's really powerful and that's how we break the cycle," Martin said.