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Digital Abuse

Digital abuse has only grown stronger as an abuse tactic during the pandemic, and it is truly a pandemic of its own nature. Digital abuse is the use of technology and the internet to bully, harass, stalk, intimidate, or control a partner. This behavior is often a form of verbal or emotional abuse conducted online, but can also be used to include financial, physical, and sexual abuse tactics as well.

So what does digital abuse look like? Well, it can take on many forms and be used across many different digital platforms. For example, intimidation, threats, and blackmail often happen through written and verbal communication on social media platforms and other communication apps. Social media abuse can also include hacking into someone else's account without their permission, posting inappropriate or offensive content in someone else's name, tagging someone else in a hurtful social media post or comment, posting someone's private messages and/or photos to public places, or even cyber bullying. Digital abuse can also involve hacking into someone's bank account or money apps and sending unwanted or unsolicited sexual photos, videos, and/or comments and messages. Cyberstalking is another huge tactic of digital abusers. Cyberstalking is repeated and unwanted harassment, intimidation, and threatening behavior through the use of online or digital technology. Abusers will sometimes use social media sites, phone applications, cloud/online drive accounts, and email to impersonate, stalk, and harass victims.

There are many different digital features that enable digital abuse to occur more easily. For example, the fact that messages, pictures, and videos automatically disappear when sent on snapchat can make it easier to send offensive or abusive messages without the survivor having proof. Apps such as Snapchat and Instagram also have settings where you can post to private stories and limit who can see which parts of it. This can lead to cyberbullying and harassment and often times does. There are also many apps that you can download to be able to call other people who have blocked your direct phone number. This means you can text and call people repeatedly even if they have blocked your device. These are just a few examples of how technology of this day and age can support digital abusers and their tactics.

So what are some ways to protect yourself or your loved ones from digital abuse? One safety tip is to change your passwords often and make them rather difficult to decipher. Another would be to turn off your location settings in your phone, or at least limit it to certain apps that you are aware of and in control of at all times. It is also important to be aware of automatic logins on alternate devices that other people may have access to. This is also important when it comes to having separate guest logins for your home WiFi.

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