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Protecting Yourself Against Smartphone Domestic Abuse

Although technology can be used by abusers to control you, there are many ways you can still protect yourself.

If you or someone you know is in danger please contact 911 or the hotline below to seek help. 

Assaulted Women’s Helpline: https://www.awhl.org/about-us 

Services safety plans, referrals to services and immediate counseling run throughout Ontario.


How Are Smart Devices Linked to Domestic Violence?

We live in an era of technology which has its many pros and cons. While we can access information at fast rates and connect with family and friends, there is also a harmful side. A common pattern within many domestic violence cases is the use of control through social media and smart devices connected to one’s home. Continuing to hold the power in these relationships is the main goal of the abuser and these forms of technology have made it easier to intimidate survivors. Thankfully, there are many ways you can still protect yourself. 

But first, let’s understand what you should look for if you feel a spouse, ex partner or current partner is using technology in an abusive manner. Remember, everyone has their own unique experience and even if not all these ideas resonate with you, the steps to protect yourself can still be beneficial. Sometimes, the signs are discreet while others are more overt.  

Signs may include:

This information is in no way meant to make you scared. We just want you to understand the signs. The next steps in this article will better teach you how to protect yourself against these types of scenarios. Here are some steps to take in order to keep your privacy safe. 

Use Two Factor Authentication

Two factor authentication is an app you can download on your cell phone that will connect with whichever social media sites you want it to. For example, if you want your Facebook account to be better protected, then you can connect it to two factor authentication. Any time a new user tries to log into your account they would have to use the code that’s shown in the two factor authentication app, or texted to your chosen number. This in turn makes it harder for hackers to access your private accounts. 

Turn Off Default Geo Tracking 

Geo-tracking is a feature on our cellphones that many people are unaware of. This setting collects location data that can tell details about private places one may have visited. When we post a picture on social media, our geo-location can sometimes tag the location of where that photo was taken without us realizing it. Don’t put pictures that update followers on your whereabouts or make your location obvious. This can make it easier for your abuser to know when you’re out, and where you spend your free time. Access your cellphone’s system settings and disable the geo-tracking icon. If you have an iPhone or Android, the links provided below will guide you on how to manage this feature and turn it off. 

iPhone: https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT207092 
Android: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3467281?hl=en 

 If you’re a Snapchat user, check the app to ensure your location isn’t being shared with your followers. Disable this feature by clicking the location icon that leads you to the Snapchat world map. The location icon can be found on the bottom left corner, when you open the Snapchat camera, homepage, and conversations. Then access your settings which are located in the top right corner of the map. Once you’re in settings, you will have a feature called “ghost mode” and there you can easily disable others from viewing your location. 

Here’s what you should consider doing to ensure your online safety…

Here’s what you shouldn’t do…

Written by: Taryn Herlich

Young woman standing outdoors late at night by a lake looking anxiously at smartphone

Sources

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