The New Domestic Violence: Technology Abuse
Abusers don’t need to be technologically sophisticated, experts say. A past or present relationship with the victim can open the door to many forms of stealth violence. The abusers may have created email accounts or bank accounts and passwords for the victim and continue to enter the accounts even after the relationship has ended.
Or abusers may be able to guess passwords and answers to security questions. “My intimate partner knows my date of birth, my email address, my high school I went to – they know so much about me,” Gibson says. “There is another level of security and privacy risk because that person is your family, your partner.”
Sometimes the attackers would buy the victims’ devices and pay for the cell phone data plans, which allows them to see all the call and text logs. Some anti-theft services can map the whereabouts of a phone.
Once attackers have access to it, they can gain information about the victim’s activities or install spyware that allows them to monitor or track down victims. Technological abuse ensures that they are always one step ahead of victims, who often say their attackers can still find them or know things the victim did not tell them.
Some also feel scared inside the so-called smart homes. Ferial Nijem moved into her ex-partner’s house “which was equipped with advanced technology,” she says. “Everything could be controlled by iPad or a smart device, including the security cameras that surrounded the property.” Lights, blinds, televisions and the audio system can also be controlled remotely. “He was able to control all of these features even from thousands of miles away,” she says.
Nijem, who has said she wants to retain her current location for security reasons, says she felt constantly being watched by cameras. “If I went out into the backyard and sat by the pool with a glass of water, I would immediately get a phone call from him, saying, ‘Better if it’s a plastic cup. I don’t want to have to empty the pool if you break it. ”
Nijem thought he was sending a deeper message, she said. “It wasn’t about the glass. It was “I’m looking at you”. This keeps you on eggshells as you are always being watched.
Her ex-partner was not physically abusive, but verbally and emotionally abusive, she said. When she was sleeping soundly, he would play loud music from a distance, turn on televisions and turn lights on and off to wake her up, she said. After 7 years together, the couple broke up in 2017, according to Nijem. She has left home, but the two remain in dispute, she said. Nijem says she is always wary of devices that can be used for surveillance or eavesdropping.
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