Today marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Prevention Month, and a great time to reflect on the reality of domestic violence, and how it can affect any people involved or exposed, their relationships with others, and even entire communities. Domestic violence includes both physical and emotional abuse, but doesn’t always show obvious signs. Frequently hidden from public view, many people in abusive relationships suffer in silence, afraid or unsure of their next steps. In today’s technology-driven atmosphere, recognizing and addressing problems must extend beyond traditional signs.

The technology we use daily makes life more convenient:  you can adjust your thermostat before getting home, see who is ringing your doorbell while at work, and look in the fridge to double-check if you need milk while at the grocery store. This same technology makes it easier to keep tabs on people as well. Apps and other smartphone features make it easier to communicate with people, and also keep tabs on what is happening in your home. When taken a step further, technology can be used to stalk, harass, and intimidate a partner. Technology-facilitated abuse is widespread and includes tracking a partner’s location, activities, and communication with friends and family through GPS, apps, and malware. There are some red flags to be aware of in a partner, family member or friend, and yourself if you suspect technology-facilitated abuse in your relationships.

Your partner:

  • Obsessively monitors your social media activity
  • Posts pictures of you online that you are uncomfortable about, without your consent
  • Demands access to your text messages and phone calls to monitor contact with others
  • Demands to know your passwords to your email and social media accounts
  • Posts critical or mean comments about you on social media accounts
  • Aggressively tracks your movement and who you spend time with through apps and social media locations
  • Remotely controls smart home devices to intimidate you

You:

  • Immediately respond to your partner’s texts out of fear
  • Feel pressured to send intimate or explicit videos or photos
  • Feel like your partner always knows where you are

Resources

If any of this sounds familiar, you are not alone. You should feel safe and respected in your relationships, online and in-person. For help feeling safe online and in your relationship, contact your local Family Advocacy Program. Victim advocacy and counseling services are available to provide support and assistance. 

Additional resources are available through your installation Community Counseling Program, Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 and the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.