Know the signs

About technology abuse

What is technology abuse?

Technology abuse is a common tactic used by abusers to gain power and control in a relationship. Forms of digital surveillance can be subtle or overt, but will include tactics to monitor you, know your movement, or know who you’re communicating with. Technology abuse can also include an abuser pretending to be someone they’re not and making contact with you online. All forms of unwanted digital communication (through social media, text, voicemail, email, etc.) can be considered technology abuse.

Technology abuse is extremely dangerous because it can be the method an abuser uses to find their victim or to make their victim feel like they're never alone. Because it’s harder to detect than physical abuse, many survivors don’t know to look for it.

What does technology abuse look like?

The following are descriptive examples of technology abuse, which can be triggering and upsetting to read:
  • Communicating with you online, such as through social media, phone, text, email, etc. without your consent. This includes trying to reach you through someone else (asking your friend, coworker, child, or family member to reach you on their behalf).
  • Impersonating someone else online in order to contact you
  • Impersonating you online
  • Making someone prove where they are by sending proof of their location
  • Checking someone's text messages, social media activity, or internet activities
  • Sending abusive texts, emails or messages
  • Making excessive calls or sending excessive texts in an effort to reach you
  • Monitoring your online activities through spyware on your phone or computer
  • Making continuous controlling or threatening phone calls
  • Coercing someone under threat of violence to give up a password, code, or other method to gain access to accounts or devices
  • Forbidding someone from having a phone or limiting who they can contact via phone or internet
  • Sharing intimate photos of someone without their consent (sometimes called revenge porn)
  • Putting a GPS tracker on your vehicle and using it to track you
  • Using smart home devices or wearable tech (like a smart watch or a fitness tracker) to monitor you

Wondering if your relationship has become abusive? 

Determine if you might be at risk by completing assessments in part 1 of our resource guide, "Understanding if it's abuse"

Go to toolkit

Additional information

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