Technology has long been used by perpetrators of domestic abuse to control and monitor their partners, but a recent study has shown that this increased even more during the pandemic.
The study - Computer Misuse as a Facilitator of Domestic Abuse - which was published by the University of Portsmouth and the University of Kent found that perpetrators of domestic abuse did not need any advanced technology knowledge and could often use everyday apps to monitor their partner.
This raises further concerns about the growing use of technology by perpetrators and reinforces our calls for more action to be taken to protect those experiencing domestic abuse.
To fully understand the issue, the study reviewed 146 domestic abuse cases reported in British and international media, as well as interviewing support charity workers and front-line police officers.
One key observation was that perpetrators often have full access to their partner’s phone or computer, which enables them to put spyware software on the devices – often without the need for any sophisticated tech knowledge.
This was backed up by a finding, included in the report, by online security company Avast, who found a 93% increase in the use of such apps and software since the beginning of the pandemic.
The study also highlighted the increasing use of apps that are intended to track lost belongings (such as car keys and mobiles) and smart devices around the home – including smart tv’s, smart locks and security monitoring devices.
It also explored how social media was being exploited by perpetrators to harass and intimidate their current or former partner online.
This may be an increasing problem, but it is not a new issue and has been flagged up for some time. We have often used our blogs and social media posts to raise awareness of this issue and the action that needs to be taken to tackle it.
Social media platforms must take greater responsibility to protect users, making it harder for blocked users to simply create a new account and continue their abuse.
Spyware software that can be installed onto devices and physical trackers that can be placed on a person or a vehicle are too readily available and require greater regulation to prevent perpetrators using them so easily.
The fear and distress caused by tech abuse must be recognised and reflected by tough sentences for those found guilty of using these tactics.
Read a summary of the report’s key findings in this article
If you have experienced this or any other kind of domestic abuse and need to reach out, Leeway can be contacted by phone 24 hours a day. Just call 0300 561 0077 to talk to someone who can help.