Social media has become a ubiquitous form of interacting and sharing information. However, comments on social media sites are often aggressive and contemptuous, especially when topics are controversial or politically charged. For example, discussion of intimate partner violence (IPV) tends to provoke strong reactions from outsiders, who make angry or blaming remarks about those involved. Although IPV is common, it has not been widely discussed in popular media until recent years when high-profile cases of abuse have come to light. In 2016, a celebrity accusation of domestic violence led to thousands of comments on social media, with outsiders weighing in about who was at fault and what should be done. This study involved a content analysis of 400 of these comments, with the intent of better understanding typical types of social media reactions to domestic violence accusations. Key themes included judgment and blame, with around 37% of commenters blaming the supposed victim in this case, while only 9% blamed the alleged perpetrator. The findings show how people comment about domestic violence and illustrate the contentious and often distorted nature of social media interactions. Implications for professionals and researchers are discussed.


Social Media, Trolling, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Victim Blaming

Author Bio(s)

Jason B. Whiting, Ph.D., and Alyssa Banford Witting, Ph.D., are with the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, Rachael Dansby Olufowote, Ph.D, is with the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Abilene Christian University and Jaclyn D. Cravens-Pickens, Ph.D., is with the Department of Community, Family and Addiction Sciences at Texas Tech University. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: jason.whiting@byu.edu.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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