What Are Digital Tools of Domestic Abuse?

Hotlines and domestic violence shelters increasingly say that abuse victims are reporting bizarre new events that make them feel as though they are going crazy. One victim reported that her air-conditioner would turn off on its own, while another claimed that the entry code to her front door kept changing on a daily basis, locking her out of her own home. Others report strange things like doorbells ringing without anyone being there and thermostats and lights being altered.

These things and more are just part of a new trend in domestic violence. Given the rise in home technology, some abusers are able to use these virtual technologies to threaten, stalk and harass their victims remotely – in many cases creating a sense of helplessness and fear.

If you suspect a dating partner, ex-spouse, or someone else close to you may be using technology to scare or intimidate you, then you need to seek legal representation right away. The family law attorneys of Kurtz & Blum, PLLC, take these matters seriously and will fight to protect your rights in and out of court.

What Is Digital Abuse?

Digital abuse is the latest form of physical and emotional domestic abuse. It is important to remember that actual physical assaults and violence are not needed to qualify something as domestic abuse. Things such as threats, harassment, stalking, and intimidation can also rise to the level of domestic abuse. In many cases, the fear of assault or the apprehension of being victimized can be as bad or worse than an actual attack, because the victim is left in a constant and never-ending state of panic and emotional paralysis.

Types of Digital Tools Used for Domestic Violence

Abusers have more tools at their disposal today than ever before. Now, those looking to harass or intimidate a partner can use all sorts of home technology to do so. In some situations, it can even create a “gaslighting” effect, where the victim believes that he or she is hallucinating or imagining things. It can make the victim feel as though they are going crazy or no one would believe them if they said anything. Here are just a handful of common examples of the digital tools of domestic abuse:

  • Using Internet-synched thermostats to change the temperature remotely
  • Using a smartphone to remotely change door locks, locking the victim out of the house
  • Turning on televisions in the middle of the night to scare the victim
  • Turning on a car remotely or locking the victim out of the vehicle
  • Using a smartphone to monitor where someone is driving or where they are at all times
  • Controlling home speakers
  • Turning lights on and off at odd times
  • Monitoring cameras and security systems to control a victim or watch them.

All of these things can be especially disturbing, especially for people who are going through a divorce or child custody battle. The abuser is using technology to watch and control the victim. This leads to a sense of complete helplessness and loss of privacy.

But there’s good news. Courts are becoming wise to these trends, and by working with a skilled attorney who understands both the law and the technology involved, you give yourself a strategic advantage in your case. If you suspect you’re a victim of these types of behaviors in Raleigh or surrounding areas in Wake County, a family law attorney from Kurtz & Blum, PLLC, can provide immediate assistance to you.

How to Protect Yourself from Digital Abuse

While some things you can’t change, you can take steps to protect yourself from digital abuse in domestic violence relationships.  For instance:

Educate yourself about all forms of abuse. Organizations like the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV) provide helpful resources to victims and their families.

Learn the technology. You may not consider yourself tech-savvy. Still, if you believe that you are being controlled or manipulated by technology, you owe it to yourself to read up and learn more about how it works and how you can take back control of your digital space.

Change all passwords. Anytime you are in the middle of a divorce or child custody matter, or if you suspect someone is following your private life online, you should immediately change all passwords and usernames. Yes, this takes a little time, but it is absolutely necessary. Don’t forget these common sites and services:

  • Your bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Job or employer log-ins
  • Social media platforms
  • Every app on your smartphone
  • E-mail accounts
  • Professional accounts.

Do a walk-through. Go through your home and take inventory of all the digital systems. Which ones can be accessed remotely by Internet or smartphone app? Make a list and methodically go one-by-one, changing user names and passwords. If you must, call the companies to get assistance in taking control of security.

Call a family law attorney. While it may seem strange to think about calling an attorney because someone is messing with your door locks, consider that this conduct can quickly escalate and put you and your children and other loved ones at risk. Would you leave your doors wide open at night? Would you get undressed in public? Probably not. But this is essentially what happens when someone is digitally abusing you. Therefore, you deserve to have the aggressive and experienced assistance of an attorney who will fight to get back your privacy and security.

Get Help from Our Raleigh Family Law Attorneys Today

If you believe you may be the victim of digital domestic violence in Raleigh or elsewhere in Wake County, contact Kurtz & Blum, PLLC, without delay. We’re in your corner. Contact us today to set up a private, one-on-one consultation with an attorney who will carefully listen to you and provide tangible and compassionate advice in your time of need.