October 19th, 2023

The Complex Link Between Domestic Violence and Technology

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While there are many benefits resulting from the advancement of technology, the unintended consequence of these advancements and our increasing dependency on technology is that it allows perpetrators easy, low-cost ways to target their victims. The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines “digital abuse” as “the use of technology and the Internet to bully, harass, stalk, intimidate, or control a partner.” It essentially is another form of emotional or verbal abuse that is being conducted through the use of technology in an effort to maintain power and control in relationships.

Additional examples of digital abuse include:

  • Sending abusive, violent, or harassing text or chat messages.
  • Spying on, monitoring or cyberstalking an individual through tracking systems, spyware or surveillance devices.
  • Controlling or forbidding an individual’s access to technology, social media.
  • Sharing intimate photos of a significant other without their consent or posting “revenge porn.”
  • Installing cameras throughout the home without their significant other’s consent or knowledge.
  • Hacking an individual’s device to access their information without their consent or knowledge.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in digital/technology abuse, in particular using technology for harassment, limiting a significant other’s access to technology, and surveillance. Therefore, it is important to know what you can do to protect yourself.

If you suspect that you or someone you know are experiencing digital abuse, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

  • Change your passwords and usernames.
  • Check your privacy settings on your devices, online accounts, and social media profiles.
  • Have your vehicle or electronic devices checked for monitoring software or GPS trackers.
  • Get a new phone or laptop.
  • Report it to law enforcement.

It is also important to properly document the abuse so you have evidence to use in court should you choose to seek judicial intervention. In addition, there are possible legal remedies available to you including, but not limited to, filing for a Peace Order or Protective Order, or filing criminal charges.