We received a flood of emails after the recent article in the New York Times, Your Car Is Tracking You. Abusive Partners May Be, Too. Many asked if SHALVA clients experienced technology abuse (they do), and many remembered that we have done a few programs on the issue, including our first virtual annual luncheon in 2020.
What are some examples of technology abuse?
Our clinical staff shared the story of Kelly*, a client whose physically, verbally, spiritually, psychologically, and sexually abusive husband demanded that the whole family needed to follow each other on their cell phones in case of emergency. Kelly cannot turn off this feature because her husband would receive an alert to his cell phone and become furious with the whole family. Kelly had been going to the public library to work on divorce planning, but now she is concerned he will question everywhere she goes. She feels trapped and afraid, and suspects that there are cameras in her house. Kelly feels like she is being monitored at all times.
How do you safety plan for technology abuse?
Those who abuse are using technology as a means to control their partner. It is the same dynamic that we have seen since we started helping survivors almost 40 years ago. Technology abuse is less about the form of technology and more about the coercive control that the survivor is experiencing. Survivors are being controlled by their intimate partner or spouse through these different types of technology.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence Safety Net Project has the following tips for survivors to consider, no matter what type of technology is being used to abuse.
Safety first. Before taking any steps, think about your safety. Some people may escalate their abusive behavior when they become aware that your passwords, accounts, or devices are secured. You can talk with an advocate about safety planning.
Trust your instincts. If it seems like someone else knows too much about you, they might be monitoring your devices, accessing your online accounts, tracking your location, or gathering information about you online. If you suspect someone else is monitoring you, consider using another phone or device such as a friend’s phone, or a computer at a library, school, or work.
Get more information. Navigating violence, abuse, and stalking can be difficult and dangerous. Advocates can help you figure out options and local resources and help you create a plan for your safety.
What are some tips for safer technology use?
There are things that everyone can do to make sure they use technology in a safe manner. These include:
Using strong passwords and PINs
Clearing your internet history
Being aware of possible tracking devices
When possible, set up technology accounts in your name only. If necessary, try to include both your names so that you can retain the right to be removed from an account if necessary.
For more information on our technology safety tips, visit our website at https://shalvacares.org/tips-for-safer-technology-use/.