Online blaming and intimate partner violence: a content analysis of social media comments

Jason B. Whiting, Rachael Dansby Olufuwote, Jaclyn D. Cravens-Pickens, Alyssa Banford Witting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)78-94
Number of pages17
JournalQualitative Report
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


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


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