U.K. Study Shows Online Abuse Common After Breakups

A new survey examining online behaviour following relationship breakups suggests that post-relationship abuse is far more common than you think.   The survey, which is scheduled to be presented at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of Counselling Psychology in Brighton, U.K. this weekend, interviewed 1612 adults though an online survey.   Of the thirty-three percent who reported experiencing a relationship breakup in the previous year (526 in total), thirty-seven percent reported experiencing digital abuse from their ex-partner.   

The most common findings were:

  • 48 per cent reported an ex sending or sharing an online message about them that was extremely nasty;

  •  34 per cent reported an ex contacting their new partner or family and friends online for the purpose of distressing them;

  • 28 per cent reported a ex threatening to post or sending an online message about them that was not true;

  •  ·26 per cent had their ex threaten to share online an something they did not want shared;

  •  26 per cent had their ex use digital technology to track or stalk them

Overall, more men than women reported online harassment (40 percent vs 36 percent) but no real gender differences were found concerning specific forms of harassment.  Also, age or education seemed to make no difference with respect to the kind of harassment received.  "There is very little research into digital abuse among adults after relationship breakups, particularly into the breadth of experiences that this study includes," said lead researcher Lindy Morrison in an press release.  "Our survey provides strong support for the necessity of further investigation into this issue."  

Lindy Morrison is currently recruiting for the next phase in her research which involves interviewing people who have experienced online abuse to determine how the abuse has affected them.


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