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Virtual Relationship Violence and Perspectives on Punishment: Do Gender or Nationality Matter?

DOI: 10.3390/fi5030301

Keywords: technology, text messaging, social networking, intimate partner violence, electronic victimization

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Given the increasingly popular use of socially interactive technology (SIT), it is believed that the way in which individuals communicate and experience relationships has drastically been changing. For those who partake in this electronic world, damaging behaviors akin to those found in the real world have emerged. Yet, we know little about the extent of these behaviors in the context of romantic relationships, especially from a gender or cultural standpoint. Research on dating violence generally indicates that women experience in-person victimization at higher rates than men, although some research has called this into question. It also suggests that some national groups experience higher rates of violence than others. However, research is almost non-existent when it comes to exploring violence in the digital world. This study investigated gender and nationality in (1) the nature and extent of socially interactive intimate violence, and (2) perceptions of the seriousness of virtual relationship violence. Using a sample of students from the United States and Poland, findings revealed that socially interactive technology may serve as a new avenue for aggressing against partners, as virtual relationship violence was not uncommon and reflected some patterns present in the real world. Some unexpected patterns also emerged. The results of this research signal a possible transferability of covert intimate violence and highlight ways in which inequalities may exist in our virtual worlds.


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