Couples’ pranks have been getting very popular on social media, where young men and women deliberately turn each other’s daily lives into misery and film the reactions. These pranks can go from fun and lighthearted to something quite heavy-duty and sometimes even cruel.

This 18-year-old woman with “a history of trauma and PTSD” had also had her boyfriend pulling pranks on her after he got into YouTube. While it all started like games for him, the stunts quickly escalated. One particular prank crossed the line and completely broke down the author.

A woman leaves her boyfriend after he crosses the line with a cruel prank

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Contrary to popular belief, there can be a very dark side to pranks like this, clinical specialist warns

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In the era of social media, people are willing to do anything for likes and subscribes. No wonder couples’ pranks have been getting super popular lately, with people eager to test their reactions, and sometimes their whole relationship.

Dr. Stephanie A. Sarkis, a AMHCA diplomate, multiple book author and clinical specialist in child and adolescent counseling, explains the dark side of pranks, “any planned ‘surprise’ behavior that scares or humiliates, or otherwise causes distress to the victim,” in an article for Psychology Today.

Worryingly, pranksters often aren’t aware of the harm and tell their victims “to lighten up”

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Many of these pranks are more dangerous than they seem to the pranksters. “Spouses, partners, family members, and friends have been subject to pranks that involve gruesome scenes, physical harm, and humiliation,” Dr. Sarkis argues.

Moreover, “When some victims confronted the people perpetrating the prank, their concerns were brushed off or told they needed to ‘lighten up.’”

But pranks can easily trigger past trauma, cause hypervigilance, or an erosion of trust in a relationship. If the video is posted online for others to see, the victim can also feel humiliated.

The OP later answered some questions in the comments

Your feelings about being pranked show if pranks are a form of abuse

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When pranks cross the line, they can been perceived as a tool to gain control over a partner, family members and friends, Dr. Sarkis argues.

“Pranks can invoke fear and give the perpetrator a feeling of power over others. If you are constantly feeling off-kilter, or walking on eggshells (hypervigilance) due to a prank, consider that these pranks are a form of abusive behavior. If a behavior upsets you, it’s a valid feeling,” Dr. Sarkis explains.

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