Domestic abuse is all about showing power -- and there's hardly anything more powerful in the world these days than technology. It's everywhere people go, integrated into the daily lives of almost everyone in a multitude of ways.
Which is why the perpetrators of domestic violence are finding technology a handy tool to continue exerting power over their victims -- even when the victims are no longer directly under their control.
Victims of domestic violence are increasingly reporting that they're the target of technology-assisted abuse both before and after they exit the home they share with their abusers. Technology becomes a literal weapon in the hands of the creative abuser. Commonly reported examples of this kind of abuse include:
- Putting monitoring programs on computers and phones that record every keystroke
- Using online programs to monitor bank accounts and credit cards for every purchase
- Installing GPS tracking devices in cars or on phones to monitor the victim's location
- Online harassment through social media accounts (often using fake profiles)
- Posting pornographic videos or photos of the victim online or emailing them to the victim's family and friends
- Putting the victim's personal information, including address and phone number, online and asking people to contact them
- Creating fake social accounts in the victim's name to pose as the victim and use to send malicious messages to the victim's co-workers, family, friends and employer
There's virtually an endless list of ways that abusers find to use technology in their schemes. However, all of it generally comes down to one of the following activities: harassment, stalking, identity theft and acts of revenge.
The answer to these actions is not to try to disengage entirely from technology. Not only is it virtually impossible to do in today's world, that's a victory for the abuser and allows him or her to gain actual control.
Instead, record each act of abuse through whatever method is available, including screenshots and printouts. Then, use all of the evidence to seek a restraining order that will hold your abuser accountable for any continued actions. The court can include electronic contact or surveillance in its language and establish real consequences for the abuser who continues.