Technology plays in integral role in how we live today. Did you know that a recent study in 2020 revealed that the average U.S. household has ten connected devices? From our smartphones to computers to Internet of Things to video gaming systems and GPS – we rely and trust in technology every single day.
But what happens when the technology we trust is misused and becomes a part of the abuse?
The Safety Net Project from the National Network to End Domestic Violence has created some useful toolkits that are designed to help you understand how technology can be misused and how you can stay safe. These tips are also useful for victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking.
The information below should not replace seeking assistance from our staff at CFJ or Law Enforcement.
- Consider using devices that an abuser does not have access to and from a safe location such as a public library, coffee shop or the home of a trusted friend.
- Use caution when turning off or discarding technology that you feel is being used to track or spy on you. Abusers may escalate their control and abuse should they feel that they are losing control over you.
- Trust your instincts. If someone knows a little too much information about you, they could be getting information about you from a variety of sources including social media, email accounts, banks accounts, location tracking or other online sources.
- Reach out to The Center for Family Justice for help. If you find yourself in immediate danger, call 911.
Identifying the Abuse
- Look for patterns and take some time to think through what kind of technology might be being used to stalk, monitor or harass you.
- Documentation can help show police and courts a pattern of behavior that fits certain legal definitions. Keep the documentation stored in a safe place away from your abuser and if using any form of technology to track the information, refer to the Safety First section of this toolkit to help keep you and your information safe.
- Report the Incidents. You may want to consider reporting the incidents to law enforcement or apply for a restraining order. CFJ’s Advocates can assist you with this process!
Steps to Increasing Safety
- Changes passwords and usernames to your accounts and/or create new accounts if possible.
- Check your devices settings and look for unrecognizable apps or connected Bluetooth devices.
- Get a new device(s) that the abuser doesn’t have access to.
- Mobile devices, vehicles and location trackers can compromise your location! Protect your location by turning off location services on your devices. Pay close attention to unrecognizable devices that have been placed inside or around your vehicle or on your person. Understand your vehicle’s technology. Some vehicles come equipped with emergency assistance and GPS tracking that an abuser can use to find your location. Recently, the use of Apple AirTags and Samsung SmartTags have become a popular method for abusers to track their victims.
- Be on the lookout for cameras and audio devices. They’re not always hidden either! Security systems, personal assistants (Google Home and Alexa) and webcams are all technologies an abuser can leverage to spy and stalk you. Always safety plan and use caution prior to discarding devices you feel an abuser is using. Documentation is always important!
- Reach out to CFJ to help develop a comprehensive safety plan!
Steps to Increasing Privacy
- Protect your address as much as possible. Make sure friends aren’t sharing your address. Some States, including Connecticut, have an Address Confidentiality program. Contact our Advocates to learn more about this program and to see if you qualify.
- Limit how much information you are giving out about yourself. A lot of personal information is sold to third parties and this information can be later found online in search engines and data brokers.
- Monitor your social media accounts and limit how much information you are sharing about yourself, including changing settings where friends and family tag you in posts.
For more information on this Toolkit, visit The Safety Net Project.