Text messages that are intimidating, oppressive and just plain evil have become the latest form of dating violence.
With cellphones and unlimited texting plans easily available among the young, there is a growing trend of what is known as "textual harassment".
"It's gotten astonishingly worse in the last two years," the Washington Post quoted Jill Murray, who has written several books on dating violence and speaks on the topic nationally, as saying.
"Especially for those who have grown up in digital times, it's part and parcel of every abusive dating relationship now," she said.
According to the paper, the harassed often feel compelled to answer the messages, whether they are one-word insults or 3 a.m. demands.
For some, 100 or more texts arrive in a day in class, at the dinner table, or in movie theatres.
"Harassment is just easier now, and it's even more persistent and constant, with no letting up," the post quoted Claire Kaplan, director of sexual and domestic violence services at the University of Virginia, as saying.
Kacey Kirkland, a victim services specialist with the Fairfax County Police Department, told the paper that he has seen textual harassment in almost every form: Threats. Rumors. Lies. Late-night questions.
"The advances in technology are assisting the perpetrators in harassing and stalking and threatening their victims," Kirkland said.
Harassment by text is only one facet of abusive relationships, which often involve contact in person, by phone, by e-mail, and through Facebook or other social networking sites.
"What technology offers is irrefutable evidence of the abuse," the paper quoted Cindy Southworth, founder of the Safety Net Project on technology at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, as saying.