Mobile phones can become a powerful electronic tag for victims of domestic abuse
“Domestic abuse has gone digital. Mobiles are a perfect tool for abusers to use today. It makes the task of monitoring, threatening, intimidating and harassing a victim so much easier, and safer for the abuser than having to do it in person, says Jennifer Perry, CEO of the Digital-Trust.
Victims keep their mobiles close to hand, they use them for all their social media, texts and emails. It is a wealth of information for an abusive partner. It can show who their partner talks to, how long, how often. It tracks where they are right now and where they’ve been. The right app allows you to remotely read text and listen in on conversations.
“This allows the victim’s mobile to become a very powerful electronic tag with their abuser as their guard. This intrusive monitoring stops victims from having any privacy, isolating them and can prevent them from getting help” says Perry
Surveillance behaviour starts when the victim is still living at home. Using a mobile an abuser can:
- set-up the phone so they have control of the phone account/master password
- force the victim to provide access to their phone by sharing password or pin
- read their texts or social media like Whats App
- see who is in their contact lists
- look at the location information that shows where they’ve been
- put spyware or tracking app on the phone
The Digital-Trust has written easy to use step by step guides on how to secure a smartphones. There is a guide for the iPhone, Androids and Windows mobiles.
It isn’t just mobiles - technology such as spy cameras, listening devices and car trackers are becoming much more common in abuse cases.
Digital abuse is a challenge for anyone working with victims and the problem is rapidly escalating. In a survey of domestic violence victims by Women’s Aid 75% reported concerns that the police did not know how best to respond to online abuse or harassment.
Jennifer Perry is the UK leading expert on cyberstalking and founder of the Digital-Trust and has been working with criminal justice and DV professionals since 2009 on digital risks and protection.
She founded, Digital-Trust to combat the growing problems of online abuse. It is the only UK organisation that develops digital advice for specifically victims of domestic abuse, harassment, stalking, and trolling.
Perry has designed new training Digital Abuse within Domestic Violence. The training helps non-technical professionals to understand the technology, the risks and how to help victims. The training is supported by specialist advice on www.Digital-Trust.org.
“It was very important to me that we delivered the training across the UK and not just in London, to make it more affordable and accessible to professionals” says Perry. The training is also part of the National Cyber Awareness Programme which is accredited by the University of Gloucestershire.
Notes to the editor:
Contact: Jennifer Perry, CEO Digital-Trust
07913 745 131or firstname.lastname@example.org
In a Women’s Aid online survey of survivors of domestic abuse in 2014:
45% reported experiencing some form of abuse online during their relationship, including through social networking sites or over email.
48% reported experiencing harassment or abuse online from their ex-partner once they’d left the relationship. 38% reported online stalking once they’d left the relationship.
75% reported concerns that the police did not know how best to respond to online abuse or harassment. This includes 12% who had reported abuse to the police and had not been helped.
A young mother, in the East Midlands, came home from meeting a friend for coffee. Her abusive husband played her a conversation she had while she was out. It really frightened her because she had no idea how he was able to tape her. Did he have someone following her? Did the coffee shop owner do it?
The answer was her husband had put mobile spyware on her phone, this allowed him to turn on the phone’s microphone and listen to her conversations. She had no idea how long or which conversations he had listened to. Two days before this incident, she had a meeting with a domestic abuse worker on how and when she would leave her abusive husband. Did he know?
Fortunately, her caseworker had training and was able to advise her what had happened and what to do. She moved up her exit plans and dumped the phone so he couldn’t track her to the new location.