Technology Abuse

What is it?

Digital partner violence is the use of technologies such as cell-phones, computers, and location technologies to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online, through texts, calls, etc. It may also include stalking behavior aided by technology. Click here to view a technology glossary, published by Staysafeonline.org powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance.

digitizing abuse

You may be experiencing digital abuse if your partner:

  • Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished
  • Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with, follow, etc. on social networking sites
  • Sends you negative, insulting or even threatening texts, emails, Facebook messages, tweets, or other messages online
  • Steals or insists to be given your passwords
  • Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others to keep constant tabs on you
  • Knows where you are/what you’re doing even when it seems they have no means of knowing
  • Puts you down in their status updates, tweets, etc.
  • Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures/video and demands you send some in return
  • Looks through your phone frequently, checks up on your pictures, texts and outgoing calls
  • Tags you unkindly in pictures on Instagram, Tumblr, etc.
  • Shares private texts, pictures, etc. online or sends them to others without permission

 Cyberbullying

Is defined as: actions that use information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm another.

Examples of what constitutes cyberbullying include: communications (texts, phone calls, pictures, videos, internet posts, instant messages, etc.) that seek to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate the recipient. The actions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior intended to harm another.

A cyberbully may be a person whom the target knows or an online stranger. When it occurs between two adults it may be referred to as “cyberharassment” or digital harassment as opposed to cyberbullying, which is most often associated with the children and teen populations. A cyberbully may be anonymous and may solicit involvement of other people online who do not even know the target.

 

nnedv digital abuse infographic 

 

Technology Safety Planning for Victims/Survivors*

Below are general safety tips for victims of domestic, sexual, and stalking violence that are experiencing digital abuse. For further information on specific types of digital abuse, explore the links above.

Trust your instincts; if you think an abusive partner may be harassing, stalking, or monitoring you using technology, they probably are. Abusers/stalkers are creative and persistent in their attempts to maintain control.

Keep detailed notes; record incidents of abuse with date and time, whenever possible. Save anything relating to the event, such as texts, screenshots of internet posts, photos, etc. If it is unsafe to keep these things yourself, ask a friend or New Beginnings for assistance.

Especially in cases of stalking, it is important to be able to show a pattern of behavior/repeated incidents when reporting to law enforcement or looking to receive protection from the court.

Get more information; work with a New Beginnings advocate to get more information about how to handle your unique situation.

Look for patterns; carefully try to determine which technology is being used to stalk, harass, and/or monitor you. Narrowing down the technology source helps in creating a more precise safety plan.

Use a safer computer/device; try changing which device you use and taking safety measures such as: in-private web browsing, clearing your browsing history, being sure to log-out of accounts, etc.

Change passwords and usernames; frequent changes to your account information helps keep it protected. Also avoid storing username password information on the device used to access the account.

Check your cell phone settings; don’t leave your GPS service active when not in use for navigation. Keep only E911 satellites on whenever possible. Apps often ask permission to access the location services on your phone, be sure to deny this access as much as possible. Be sure your phone isn’t set to automatically connect to nearby WiFi. Clear your call and text history frequently, or set it up to clear after so many uses.

*Adapted from NNEDV’s Technology Safety Plan: A Guide for Survivors and Advocates