Cell Phone Safety for Intimate Partner Violence Survivors
According to the Centers for Disease Control, intimate partner violence “describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.”
Abusers utilize multiple methods to control their partners, including, but certainly not limited to, physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and digital abuse. Digital abuse/tech attacks happen when an abuser gains unsolicited access to information on the victim's smartphone, tablet, and/or any other digital device.
The intent behind the abuse will vary. However, abusers may aim to track the victim’s location, send/read messages, or gain access to other personal information such as photos and bank account information.
The purpose of this guide is to help those who have experienced intimate partner violence understand how their abuser can utilize technology to perform these attacks, how to detect spyware on their phone, and ways to practice cell phone safety.
Stalkerware: How Abusers Are Utilizing Technology
Hacking is the process of accessing computers, smartphones, tablets, and networks without consent. Abusers hack into their partner's devices with the help of different types of spyware, stalkerware, software, and mobile apps, which allow them to stalk their partner in a discreet way.
Recognizing the Presence of Stalkerware on a Device
It can be difficult to recognize the signs of spyware or stalkerware on a device, especially if you don’t know what to look for. It’s even tougher given the fact that, for the most part, stalkerware is disguised on your device.
There are a few signs to look for that may indicate you are being electronically monitored. However, just because your device might be experiencing some of the following issues, it may not mean you are being monitored. That said, it is better to resolve the issue to be safe.
Behavioral Signs of Digital Stalking and Stalkerware
There are behavioral characteristics an abuser may show that indicate they are hacking into/tracking your device. Below are common characteristics to be aware of if you are a person who experiences domestic violence.
How to Prevent and Escape Cyberstalking
While it can be difficult to detect whether a device is compromised by spyware, it is less difficult to prevent it from happening and escape cyberstalking.
Seeking Outside Help
Victims of intimate partner violence, or any type of domestic violence, should never feel alone. There are many resources available to you if you feel you are falling victim to digital abuse. Listed below are different hotlines, organizations, and websites available to those who find themselves in these situations.
Verizon’s HopeLine Project
Verizon acknowledges the fact that the domestic violence problem in the United States is far too big. This is why Verizon created a program to help bring awareness to domestic violence prevention by supporting the #Hope feature made possible by Camp Hope.
Camp Hope is a youth program available nationwide that aims to end the cycle of generational violence. The #Hope feature allows any Verizon Wireless customer to connect to the National Domestic Violence Hotline by dialing #Hope on their cell phone.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a resource available 24/7 for victims of domestic violence. This hotline is available to anyone who is being abused and is in need of support. The hotline number is 1-800-799-7233. If you are in an unsafe environment that prevents you from speaking on the phone, visit The Hotline website or text LOVEIS to 22522. If this is an emergency, call 911.
National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net Project
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) is a project that addresses the different causes and consequences of domestic violence by collaborating and providing educational tools at the state, national, and international levels.
The Technology Safety website managed by the NNEDV Safety Net Project is a tool available for those who want to explore “technology in the context of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and violence against women.”
Also, according to the NNEDV, you can download the TechSafetyApp to help you “identify technology-facilitated harassment, stalking, or abuse” and access tips on what to do.
Local Domestic Abuse Shelters
There are many domestic violence shelters located nationwide that victims can visit to escape their abuser. Find a local domestic violence shelter near you if you are in need of shelter or any other assistance such as support groups, crisis counseling, or safety planning assistance.
Domestic violence is not an easy subject to discuss, but it is important to talk about it with others who can help because the conversation can be life-saving. Following the above tips can aid you in practicing proper cell phone safety techniques, which can ultimately help protect your life.