With each new invention and upgrade of technology, abusers have found new and inventive ways of exacting their power and control over their victims. Since abuse is rooted in power and control, not anger as we used to believe, technology has allowed abusers to stalk and harass their victims to a higher degree than before.
What is Digital Abuse?
Digital abuse is the use of technology (text messaging, email, social media, etc) to harass, stalk, or intimidate an intimate partner. Below are some real life examples of digital abuse that victims had to face.
“Why aren’t you answering my messages? Who are you with?” (5 missed calls)
-Sending constant text messages
-Wanting to know where their partner is and who they are with.
-Calling them repeatedly when they don’t answer messages.
Everyone has a right to turn off their phone when they wish. No one should be pressured to answer text messages or phone calls before they are ready.
“Everyone hates you. You are a dumb sl*t. Watch out – I will be at your apartment when you get home.”
-Sending threatening messages over text message, social media, or email.
Everyone has a right to feel safe and respect in their relationship.
“I was invited to this party too. I decided to come when I saw you check-in here on Facebook”
-Using social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) to keep tabs on the location of their partner.
-GPS apps are a common way that abusers use to find the location of their partner.
Everyone has a right to feel safe in their surroundings. Stalking is not only a part of abuse, it is a crime. If you are being stalked, please visit the Stalking Resource Center online for information on how to best protect yourself.
“Send me some nudes. I want to see your hot body right now.”
-Pressuring someone to send naked pictures or videos
-Sharing nude pictures of their partner with their friends without permission.
Everyone has a right to refuse sexting or sending nude photos. Everyone should feel respected and protect by their partner, sharing their private photos is a gross violation of trust.
“Why is there a password on your computer? What do you have to hide?”
-Insisting on having access and checking messages on your email, phone, and/or social media accounts.
Everyone has a right to privacy and to choose their own friendships..
3 Ways to Stop Being a Victim of Digital Abuse
1) Clean Up Your Social Media Accounts
One of the most important ways of keeping yourself safe from digital abuse is to make sure all your profiles on social media are set to private. It is also important that you don’t share information about where you live, “check in” at any locations, or put pictures up that may give someone information about your location.
There are many apps that ask for your location so that they can help to find information in your area for you. It is a nifty feature, but please understand that abusers often use GPS to help find their victims location. Check your phone often for any applications that may have been downloaded by someone other than you. Please realize that apps are out there made especially to stalk someone and their icons are meant to look “typical” and sometimes look like apps you own. Make sure the GPS button on your cell phone is turned off, as well.
3) Get Tech Savvy
These applications will help the privacy-minded individual.
SMS Export is an app used to copy all your text messages on your iPhone directly to your PC. Document threatening or harassing text messages for future use and avoid having them deleted to clear up space on your phone.
This app sends and receives self-destructing text messages. That means that you and the person you are messaging will both have the Confide app. Encrypted text messages are sent between you two and after the message is read by the receiver, it self-destructs, leaving no evidence of the message.
You can download this for Android, iPhone, or PC
Hideit Pro hides apps, photos, videos, and notes. It disguises itself as an “Audio Manager” and when clicked on shows audio settings. If you press and hold the logo, it opens up your hidden items.
Smart Phone Lock
This phone lock changes your pin to the current time & date, so your pin changes every minute.
Preparation is the most important part of safety. Please don’t put yourself in any situation where you can be harmed. These apps will help some, but for others, it might be too dangerous if your abuser monitors your phone. If you would like to speak with a domestic violence advocate online then click here.
Photo: Getty Images