Cyber Dating Abuse Victimization Among Secondary School Students From a Lifestyle-Routine Activities Theory Perspective

Joris Van Ouytsel, Koen Ponnet, Michel Walrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Controlling one’s romantic partner through digital media is a form of cyber dating abuse. To design effective educational campaigns, a deeper understanding of how some young people become victim of this type of abuse within their romantic relationships is warranted. This study is the first to adopt a lifestyle-routine activities theory perspective toward online romantic partner monitoring, by looking at whether secondary school students’ risky digital lifestyle and their digital media use are linked to a higher chance of being controlled by a romantic partner, taking into account gender, age, and the length of the romantic relationship. The data of 466 secondary school students (71.0% girls, n = 331) between 16 and 22 years old (M = 17.99 years; SD = 0.92) who were in a romantic relationship are analyzed. Linear regression analysis suggests that engagement in online risk behavior, the length of the romantic relationship, engagement in sexting with the romantic partner, and the amount of social networking site use were significantly linked to victimization of digital controlling behavior. The results are important to practitioners, as they indicate that messages about safe Internet use should be incorporated in prevention and educational campaigns with regard to cyber dating abuse. Suggestions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2767-2776
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • controlling behavior
  • cyber dating abuse
  • dating violence
  • lifestyle-routine activities theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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