Turning the tables on abusers

Domestic violence is about power and control, according to experts, and technology is a modern tool of control for abusers.

This includes actions like restricting access to phone or internet, monitoring emails, phone calls and text messages, and using tracking technology (e.g. phone locating software) to keep tabs on a partner’s location.

But victims are now turning the tables on their abusers and using technology to safely exit a violent relationship.

The most dangerous time

According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, leaving a relationship is the most dangerous time.

“When a victim leaves, they are taking control and threatening the abusive partner’s power, which could cause the abusive partner to retaliate in very destructive ways.”

Those ways can include escalation of violence, harming or killing pets, disrupting the victim’s workplace/threatening their employment, and even killing the victim. This makes leaving incredibly dangerous.

*Sharon has been helping her friend, Kelly, prepare to leave a violent relationship for over a year. She says technology has provided the tipping point that has made it a reality.

“He’s been accessing her laptop and reading all her emails and phone messages because he’s convinced she’s having an affair,” Sharon said.

“So the most critical thing has been getting a safe way for her to communicate. We got her a burner phone and because they’re on iPhones at home, we got an Android so there was no risk of anything popping up in the cloud.

“I’ve set her up a new Gmail address that’s only installed on the new phone so there’s no risk of any notifications popping up or of him accessing it through her main phone.”

Sharon said she’d also installed a series of apps to help her friend manage the practical and emotional aspects of leaving.

“I’ve put DAISY (domestic violence resources) app on her phone and also CALM (meditation) to help her sleep,” she said.

“I also put Voice Recorder on both her phones so she can record phone calls with him and PENDA (Women’s legal services).”

1800RESPECT Recommends a variety of Safety Apps, including ARC app, which enables women to track and record abusive behaviour, uploading photos, videos, voice recordings and diary entries to ensure evidence is captured.

* Names have been changed to protect identities