8 signs of abuse through WhatsApp

8 signs of abuse through WhatsApp

WhatsApp and other similar applications can be used to monitor, harass or manipulate the partner. We show you how to identify if you are being a victim of this type of abuse.

8 signs of abuse through WhatsApp
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: January 08, 2022

The Internet and social networks have become an essential part of your life and, therefore, are key in human relationships. Especially, Messaging apps have transformed the way we interact. Thus, it is important to know how to recognize the signs of abuse in time through WhatsApp and other similar applications.

It is estimated that more than 50% of young people between 18 and 30 years have suffered some type of cyberbullying. Among its manifestations are the control, surveillance and manipulation exercised through this type of chats.

Such abusive behaviors can be directed at people with whom any type of bond is shared (such as friends or family), but they are especially common in romantic relationships.



One of the main problems in this regard is the difficulty in identifying who is being abused. Many of these behaviors are normalized, minimized, and overlooked, but its repercussions on the mental health of the victim are indisputable. Thus, we present some signs to which you should be alert.

Common signs of abuse through WhatsApp

Demanding an immediate response is one of the most common signs of abuse on WhatsApp.

Abuse through WhatsApp includes all those behaviors intended to control, manipulate, or emotionally harm to the victim. Faced with what you might think, this type of abuse affects at similar rates to men and women during adolescence.

In this way, it is very important that everyone is forewarned. Abuse can have different faces; however, the following are some of the most common manifestations.

Demand immediate responses

The demand for immediate responses is one of the most common behaviors. The person becomes angry if their partner does not respond immediately to their messages and accuses them of lack of interest or of not prioritizing the relationship.

It is not understood (or is not respected) that nobody has to offer constant and exclusive availability, that there may be other matters to deal with and that it is entirely legal not to respond until it is possible to do so.

Force to converse whenever you are online

Every time the victim enters WhatsApp, they have to start a conversation with their partner; otherwise, it becomes upset and begins with reproaches, suspicions and manipulations. It is not allowed to be chatting with other people without attending to the couple, as this interprets it as a lack of respect.

Send location

The ability to send the location (on time or in real time) is a great control tool for those who abuse through WhatsApp. Thus, they force their partner to show where they are at all times, perhaps with the excuse of making sure they are not lying or committing an infidelity.

Ask for photos or videos to exercise surveillance

In relation to the above, it is also common to find people who ask their partners to send photos or videos at specific times of the day. For example, while they are in class or eating with friends.

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This request has in order to check what you really are where you say you are and who you say you are. Sometimes, the companions are even forced to appear in the photos or videos to calm the suspicions of the other.

Too, it may happen that graphical evidence (screenshots) of who you are talking to is requested through WhatsApp. Ultimately, the goal is to exercise control over the life and relationships of the victim.

Block or enforce the law of ice

The abuse is not always active and direct; sometimes it adopts a passive-aggressive form that is as harmful or more than the previous ones. For example when after a discussion one of the people applies absolute silence to the other or even blocks it of the application.

In this way, it generates enormous anguish by leaving her without the possibility of expressing herself, without explanations or communication channels and in total uncertainty. With this kind of attitude it is possible to subdue whoever is on the other side, who generally ends up apologizing and accepting any term as long as that “punishment” of silence is withdrawn.

Decide which photo should be displayed on the profile

Does your partner get offended, angry or complain about you when your WhatsApp profile picture does not show both of you? Does he ask you to remove or change some images because he doesn’t like how or who you date in them?

This type of manipulation is very common and threatens individual freedom. Each person is free to choose what to show in their profiles and being in a relationship does not give the other person the right to decide for you.

Control in WhatsApp is evidenced, for example, through the requirement to share passwords or locations.

Give yourself passwords and unlock patterns

This is one of the most widespread and normalized signs of abuse through WhatsApp. Especially, the younger population comes to consider that sharing passwords with the partner is necessary, mandatory and a sign of trust. If it is not accepted, this can generate suspicion and mistrust in the other when, in reality, respect for privacy is a priority in a bond of this type.



Sexting forced

Finally, one of the most harmful and dangerous abusive behaviors should not be forgotten: sexting forced. This which implies forcing or coercing the partner to send images or videos with explicit content or to participate in sexual conversations without really wanting to do so.

How to act in the face of these abusive behaviors through WhatsApp?

If you have seen yourself identified in any of the previous points, it is important that you take action in this regard. First, remember that none of these actions are natural or healthy in a relationship; rather, they are signs of abuse.

Keep in mind that being in a relationship does not force you to lose your individuality or your rights, that you can still talk with other people, have your free time, protect your privacy and not offer explanations in the face of irrational doubts.

To be able to cope with these behaviors on the part of the partner It is important not only to understand where the limits of love are, but also to have a solid self-esteem. It is this confidence that will allow you to say “no”, put a brake on intrusive and controlling behaviors, and not give in to emotional manipulations.

If you feel like you don’t have the strength to do it or If you feel guilty about denying your partner these privileges, seek professional guidance. Control and abuse can escalate and cause important consequences on your psychological health.

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