Teen Domestic Violence Using Social Media on the Rise

It's no secret, teenagers love their cell phones and social media, but now some are using it to bully and control their friends.

And it can turn into something even more dangerous -- domestic violence. What could seem harmless on the phone can turn into domestic abuse.

You can do just about anything with a cell phone these days, but with great power comes great risk. And the latest trends show teenagers are the most likely to get hurt.

The National domestic Violence Hotline estimates one in four dating teens is abused or harassed online or through text message by their partner.

"It has added a complexity and other dimensions to abuse," said Mary Reidel, who runs Women In Distress in Broward County.

Reidel says she's seen a dramatic increase in the amount of abuse that escalates through social media using apps like Kik, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

"People control who they can be associated with, how they dress, checking their cell phones, taking their cell phones away," Reidel said.

The secrecy of social media makes it harder to spot the signs that abuse is happening.

"It's like a secret they keep to themselves, only the two of them know about it, as soon as you send the message you can delete the message almost like it never happened," said Shanda Martin of the BSO Special Victims Unit.

There are red flags - receiving multiple texts about where the victim is, cursing back and forth and constant messaging.

Deputy Martin encourages parents to talk to their kids and check their phones.

"You pay for those devices they're using so why not check them?" Martin said. "Start to talk about it and open the comm with kids to see what they're doing and who they're hanging with and checking the apps then you can spot the signs early on."

Another sign of trouble is if your teenager is always on the phone or talks about having to get back to someone quickly.

For more information or where you can find help, you can call the Women In Distress 24 Hour Crisis Hotline at 954-761-1133 or click here.

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