For domestic violence survivors, technology can be a sword and a shield at the same time. You can use technology to protect, empower, and improve your access to justice. Today, there are apps and websites that link victims to various service providers and support groups. Even if you’re based in remote areas, you can access these services over the internet. Victims can stay connected with friends and family hence combating the attempts by the abuser to isolate them. Moreover, CCTV camera and GPS tracking devices can be utilized to alert the authorities whenever the abuser is approaching.
Victims Can Record Incidences of Domestic Violence
Today’s smartphones have advanced features like voice recordings and video recordings. Most domestic violence victims have utilized technology to record their abuser’s behaviors for various reasons. Common reasons could be to gather evidence to use in court, pick talking points when reporting to the police or lawyer, or just to convince yourself that your partner is in fact abusive. Apps like Aurora, iMatter, and Smartsafe can help victims to securely record their abuser’s actions and access relevant information, services, and emergency contacts.
Although technology has helped many domestic violence victims get help and support, it has also opened avenues for abuse. Here are some tips to keep you safe from your abuser:
Trust your Instincts
If you suspect that your abuser knows too much about your whereabouts, it is possible that your phone, email, computer, or car has been compromised. Most abusers can use any of these gadgets to spy on you and maintain power and control.
Plan for safety
Dealing with abuse, violence, and stalking can be a very difficult and dangerous affair. Talk to domestic violence services or police to craft a safety plan.
Secure your Computer
If the abusive person has access to your computer, they might monitor your browsing activities. Keylogging and spyware programs can be used to track what you do on your computer without you knowing it. Although it is not possible to completely clear your online tracks, using a safer computer when browsing can help. Consider using a computer at a public library, internet café, or community center.
Change Your Email and Social Media Accounts
If you suspect that your abuser can access your email or social media accounts, consider creating a new account on a safer computer. Don’t access this new account from the computer your abuser can access. Try to use anonymous names and do not provide detailed personal information to protect yourself from tech-affiliated domestic violence.
Check your Smartphone Settings
If you are still using the mobile phone you received from the abusive person, consider switching it off when not in use. Also, check and turn off various settings like automatic call answering, optional location service, etc. If the location feature is on, you abuser can easily track you.
Seek Legal Intervention
Most states are working to amend their criminal laws to include cyber-stalking. Stalking a person on the internet via email, posting false information about a person, or impersonating someone are all considered cyber-stalking crimes. Most spyware used by perpetrators of domestic violence are against the law. For instance, any spyware that doesn’t ask for your consent during the installation is considered illegal. In the US, states like Washington and Iowa have passed laws to criminalize certain forms of spyware. These laws make it illegal for someone other than the rightful owner and operator of a device to install software that monitors web browsing, disables security software, or monitors keystrokes. Producers of spyware also face punitive penalties and punishments. So, check out the available legislative frameworks in your area and seek legal redress. In general, it is illegal to hijack control of someone’s computer, modify their personal data, or download their private information without their consent.
As things stand, spyware is not illegal as long as you consent to it under the end-user license agreement during the installation. If your abuser has access to your devices, they could easily install these spyware and consent to them without your knowledge. Be careful when installing any app to your phone and reset your phone to factory settings if you suspect that your abuser might have installed spyware on your phone.
When Souls Connect
The above article is created by TechWarn.com. A representative of this company reached out to me, if I was willing to collaborate on this topic. As my regular readers know, I am open to collaborations and I especially loved the thought behind above article:
“Domestic violence situations can present a unique set of digital security challenges that may not be covered by other security guides. We aim to patch that gap by shining a light on how survivors can detect device-spying, seek help privately, gain financial independence, and ultimately break free from abuse.”
Both TechWarn as I hope you find the above article with provided tips helpful. In case, you need immediate assistance: on this page – CLICK – you can find an overview of organisations providing guidance and more.
Unfortunately, if you happen to find yourself in an abusive relationship, you’re not the only one. As scary as might be for you, take the first step and reach out to someone TODAY.
Note: I am not an affiliate nor do I receive any form of payment for sharing content from the TechWarn Company.
Patty Wolters Sep 2019.