A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to an e-safety course for women on technically facilitated abuse run by the Australian Government. This course is designed to educate women in and leaving abusive relationship how to be safe on line. We talked about what is known as Technical Financial Abuse.
It is easier to my stalked and monitored than is was a decade ago.
What struck me most was how much harder it is to leave and remain safe when leaving a violent relationship; than it was when I left a decade ago. How scary it must be to think your every move is being monitored and tracked by your abuser? Ten years ago, all I had to worry about my emails being hacked and the constant barrage of text messages. Believe when I tell you that was intimidating enough.
Technology is the new weapon in domestic violence.
Today it is a whole new ball game. The technical advances in the last decade whilst being amazing and ground-breaking. As a business owner, it has been a positive game changer. But, it has also equipped abuser with a new weapon of power and control. Which is vital for the abuser and is at the root of everything they do.
Leaving disrupts the power and control.
When the person they are abusing leaves the power and control is disrupted. The abuser will do what it takes to gain back control.
There are four main elements to Technically Facilitated Abuse:
- Harassment – the abuser will use social media, email, SMS to harass the victim, this is enables them to stay in their victim’s life and mind and keep control of them. This harassment instils fear and it is this fear that keeps the abuser is control.
- Monitor, stalking – with today’s technology it is easy for the abuser to monitor and stalk. There are so many tracking devices available. A Smart television can be set up to watch and listen to everything; so, the abused is doing and saying in their own lounge room. Tracking devices can be put in phones, strollers, toys, bags, cars. Anyplace you can hide a small object you can put a tracking device.
- Impersonation – This comes in two forms:
- The abuser will impersonate someone the abused knows to gain access to their social media, this means the abused is unaware that the abuser has access to their LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or snap-chat accounts. So, they are being watched and if the location is on the abuser can build a good picture of their movement – without the need for tracking devices
- The abuser will impersonate the abused on social media, usually without the abused knowledge. They will use this to make the abused look bad, negatively impact friendships and career. This is another tool in the toolkit to isolate the abused by causing friction with friends, family and work colleagues.
- Threats/Punishment – The abused will have 24-hour access to the abused through social media to threaten and punish the abused. This can range from direct threats to the abused, their children, family even pets. To threats of spreading lies to their friends, family and their employer and colleagues which can make them fear for their job. This keeps the power and control firmly in the hands of the abuser.
Virtual activity threatens real safety and security.
In this modern world, we live in privacy is hard to come by. With victims of domestic violence you have someone that wants power and control over them. This virtual world becomes a weapon which poses a very real threat to their security and safety.
Companies who actively support employees, secure their own data.
Companies need to understand and openly engage in helping employees in this situation keep their virtual presence secure. Employees are privy to a great deal of confidential and sensitive material, so helping them deal with technically facilitated abuse makes sense both ethically and economically.