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Technology Abuse

Read below 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.

Forms of Technology Abuse

In today's technology driven world, tech abuse can come in many forms. Technology abuse may start subtly at first, where an abuser just wants to "make sure you're okay" or "check up on you." This can seem like it's coming from a loving place, but then graduates to constant monitoring through technology. Technology abuse is used to shift power to the abuser who then has control or knowledge over everything the victim does online or via technology. Below are some ways in which technology abuse can manifest, but it's definitely not a comprehensive list.

  • 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, co worker, 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 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 (bank account, email, social media, etc.) or devices (phone, computer, car, etc.)
  • 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 an Apple Watch or a fitness tracker) to monitor you

Impact of Technology Abuse

It's difficult to say what long term impact technology abuse can have on survivors because technology abuse is often intertwined with other forms of abuse. Comparatively, it's also a newer method, so most academic institutions haven't conducted studies of the impact of technology abuse.

However, we know from survivors of stalking, identity theft, and voyeurism that technology abuse can lead a long term break of trust and the constant feeling of being watched. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Many survivors feel like they're constantly alert or being watched, even years after they've separated from their abuser.