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After escaping an abusive relationship, Disney star Debby Ryan joined the Don't Look Away Campaign, a movement that stresses that everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. As the star of the Disney series Jessie, Ryan not only uses her show to highlight the challenges young women face but to also get involved with a greater cause.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in four women in the U.S. has been involved in some type of domestic abuse. While signs of physical and emotional abuse are easier to spot, a growing trend among the new generation of social media users is digital abuse.
“When somebody puts their hand on you, you know what it is,” says Ryan. “But leading up to that as a teenager, you don’t necessarily know the signs of mental, emotional, verbal, digital abuse—demanding your phone passwords, constantly checking in with you.”
Signs of digital abuse include:
- Obsessive text messaging in heated debates.
- Explosive temper if you don't respond immediately.
- Checking your cellphone without permission.
- Embarrassing you on sites like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Ryan's story is not related to a romantic relationship, but to a male friend who tried to possess her through the use of text messaging and social media. She experienced extreme harassment and was often guilted into canceling plans to hang out with her former abuser.
“I think that love should never leave a scar or a bruise. It should never hurt. Personally, I’ve never seen a very healthy, strong, empowering, beautiful, loving, best friend kind of relationship come out of very severe violent dominance,” she said.
In the Mary Kay Campaign, women who have survived and conquered abusive relationships share their stories and talk about their experiences with domestic violence.
The campaign urges those who have witnessed or experienced any kind of abuse in their own lives to text “loveis” to 22522.