The rapid expansion of social media has brought with it a new platform for perpetrators of domestic violence to assert power and control over their victims. The statutes presently used to prosecute abusers fail to protect victims from social media threats and to punish abusers for making those threats. Using the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Elonis v. United States, this note proposes a straightforward solution to a multifaceted problem—how to better protect victims of domestic violence from social media threats while maintaining abusers’ First Amendment rights. The answer is not mere clarification of the true threat doctrine; it is to finally enact a statute like Professor Alafair Burke’s proposed “Coercive Domestic Violence” statute. By including a requisite subjective intent element, while punishing coercive acts, emotional abuse, and coinciding physical violence, the “Coercive Domestic Violence” statute strikes the necessary balance between protecting the First Amendment rights of abusers and advocating for victims of gender-based violence.
Megan L. Bumb,
Domestic Violence Law, Abusers’ Intent, and Social Media: How Transaction-Bound Statutes Are the True Threats to Prosecuting Perpetrators of Gender-Based Violence,
82 Brook. L. Rev.
Available at: http://brooklynworks.brooklaw.edu/blr/vol82/iss2/16