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Digital abuse

In the modern world, digital platforms and smart tech are increasingly being used to perpetrate, or otherwise facilitate, domestic abuse. Digital abuse, in its first stages, can be perpetrated under the guise of romantic interest or loving concern, with abusers criticising late responses to texts and questioning who you follow or like on social media. The abuse can also be framed as the fault of the victim, with falsely conjured and jealousy-fuelled suspicions about disloyalty being used to bargain the right to access and check the victims phone.  

Digital abuse very often can take the shape of verbal abuse, with social media platforms and email providing a resource to send threatening or hurtful messages (either anonymously or directly). Also, and commonly within relationships, digital abuse can intersect with sexual assault. Victims may be pressured to send explicit videos or texts, the storage of which may be later used by the abuser to threaten, harass or humiliate the victim. On the other hand, victims may receive distressing explicit videos and texts from the abuser themselves, without their prior consent and with the resulting pressure to return the favour.  

Digital abuse can also translate into more physical forms of abuse, with smart home tech being misused to track and stalk victims, and, in some instances, even control or manipulate their living conditions (for example, increasing temperature on a smart tech thermostat, or blaring music from a wireless speaker). Abusers can also use GPS locators and spyware to facilitate in their stalking and harassment of a victim.  

The following are examples of digital abuse:  

  • Insult or humiliate the victim online, for example, unflattering photos, degrading comments or remarks 

  • Sending explicit texts, photos or videos  

  • Using explicit texts, photos or videos of the victim to threaten or intimidate them 

  • Pressuring the victim to send explicit texts, photos or videos 

  • Monitoring victims computer or phone 

  • Sending hurtful comments or abuse via email or on an online message platform 

  • Punishing the victim for not texting back 

  • Using smart tech and geolocation to stalk and harass the victim 

  • Using the victims identity to humiliate them or cause trouble 

  • Stealing or forcefully requesting passwords 

  • Questioning and picking apart your social media activity  

  • Dictating your behaviour online, for example, what you can view / who you can follow  

Getting help

If you are suffering digital abuse of any kind, it is vital that you get help as quickly as possible. Please contact our specialist team who can support you and explain the options and protections that are available. Please call 999 if you are in imminent danger. In circumstances where calling the emergency services may inflame the situation, you can press 55 once you have dialled 999 and the emergency services will go to the address from where you have called without you having to say anything. 

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