Key copier apps and domestic violence: image of a cellphone with a key on its screen on a dark blue background

Behind the Screens: Key Copier Apps

Key copier apps and domestic violence: image of a cellphone with a key on its screen on a dark blue backgroundThis is a post in our Behind the Screens series, which explores issues related to digital abuse. This post was contributed by Eleanor, a Hotline advocate

As technology continues to make our lives more accessible and seamless, it’s always important to be aware of how it can also be used for potential abuse. In our previous Behind the Screens posts, we’ve discussed ways that computers, mobile devices and spyware can be used to manipulate, control and/or stalk a victim. Now, there are apps – such as the KeyMe App – that could allow an abusive partner to enter your home without your consent.

According to the Stalking Resource Center, “stalkers often use technology to assist them in stalking their victims.” At The Hotline, we know that abusive partners use a variety of tactics, including the use of technology, to intimidate or control their partners. Though the intended purpose of key copier apps is to ease the frustration of losing one’s keys or getting locked out of one’s home, it’s important to be aware of their existence and how they could be used by an abusive partner. For example, with the KeyMe app, anyone with an account can photograph your keys using the app and store photographic copies of them in their digital cloud to print keys as desired, thus allowing access to your personal spaces.

Read more

behindthescreens-harassment

Behind the Screens: Revenge Porn

behindthescreens-harassment

This is a post in our Behind the Screens series, which explores issues related to digital abuse.

“If you leave, I’ll ruin your life with these pictures…”

One of the more insidious forms of digital abuse is nonconsensual pornography, often referred to as “revenge porn.” This type of abuse intersects with sexual abuse, as it involves the digital distribution of nude or sexually explicit photos and/or videos of a person without their consent. It’s called “revenge” porn because the images or videos are often used as retaliation or as blackmail material by a current or former partner.

At The Hotline, we hear from many people who have experienced this form of abuse. Some victims have willingly shared images privately with their partners, only to have their partners break their trust and later threaten to distribute those images publicly. Others have had partners coerce or force them into creating sexually explicit materials in order to shame, control and manipulate them. Alternatively, some abusive partners take photographs or videos without the victims’ knowledge and then use the threat of sharing those materials online to maintain control over the victim. No matter the situation, breaking the trust of a partner and manipulating or shaming them in this way is abusive behavior.

Read more

behind-screens-footprints

Behind the Screens: Reducing Tech Footprints

behind-screens-footprintsThis is a post in our Behind the Screens series, which explores issues related to digital abuse. This post was written by Lauren, a Hotline advocate.

When navigating an abusive relationship it is important to have safe access to online resources and communication. Sometimes an abusive partner might monitor computer usage by checking web browsing history or even using tracking software on the computer. Ideally, connecting online should be done on a safe computer that the abusive partner can’t access, such as the computer of a trusted friend or a public computer at a library or community center. When it is not possible to use the internet from a safe device, there are still ways to reduce the technological footprints left on your computer. (Keep in mind that there is no way to completely delete internet history. If your partner is using spyware on your device, they will likely still have access to your browsing history. Learn more about spyware in this post.)

Below we are going to explore safety options in four common web browsers. A web browser is the software that allows someone to connect to the internet, such as Internet Explorer or Safari. For each of the four browsers there are steps for how to delete all browsing history, delete selective browsing history, and use a private browsing mode that does not record browsing history. This information is based off the latest version of the browsers at the time this post is published. If you are unsure of which browser or version you are using, whatbrowswer.org will help you identify your browser. If your browser is not listed below or you are using an older version of a browser, information on how to take these precautions may be found in the support section of your browser’s website.

Read more

behindthescreens-spyware

Behind the Screens: Spyware and Domestic Violence

behindthescreens-spywareThis is a post in our Behind the Screens series, which explores issues related to digital abuse.

Technology opens up so many possibilities to connect with people around the world, but unfortunately the other side of the coin is the potential for abuse. As we’ve been discussing in our Behind the Screens series, mobile devices and computers can become tools for an abusive partner to manipulate, control, and shame a victim. They can also be used to spy.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, “spyware is a computer software program or hardware device that enables an unauthorized person (such as an abusive partner) to secretly monitor and gather information about your computer [or cell phone] use.” Spyware can track everything you do, from keystrokes, to the sites you visit, to documents you print, to messages you send. In some cases, a person does not need physical access to your device to install spyware, and it can be very difficult to detect.

Read more

behindthescreens-harassment

Behind the Screens: “Help! My Ex is Harassing Me Online”

behindthescreens-harassmentThis is a post in our Behind the Screens series, which explores issues related to digital abuse. 

Breakups are a difficult time for any couple, but they can be an especially difficult and potentially dangerous time for survivors of abusive relationships. Even if you’re able to safely leave the relationship, the abusive partner can still cause harm from afar in a variety of ways. Technology and social media create new spaces where abuse can take place. This is called digital abuse, and it is just as unacceptable as any other form of abuse.

Even if your ex-partner did not exhibit abusive behaviors during the relationship, there’s still a possibility that feelings of anger, hurt, sadness, loneliness, or loss of control could lead them to become abusive online. They could hack into your email accounts or send unwanted emails, post unwanted messages or pictures on social media sites, or create fake profiles to harass you and people you know. If your ex is harassing you online, here are some ways to handle it:

Read more

behindthescreens-privacy

Behind the Screens: How to Maximize Online Privacy

behindthescreens-privacyThis is a post in our Behind the Screens series, which explores issues related to digital abuse. 

Online privacy is a bit of an oxymoron. According to Ed Gibson, former head of cybersecurity at Microsoft and director of security at PWC Global, data that is posted on the internet should be regarded as permanent after 20 minutes, even if the originator has deleted the file. Nevertheless, 86% of internet users have tried to use the internet in ways to minimize the visibility of their digital footprints.

Despite a majority of internet users’ attempts at maintaining some privacy, social networking companies like Facebook are regularly tweaking their privacy policies, slowly making themselves (and as a result, their users) more public. Location-based apps can glean information from your mobile phone, and advertisers can use swaths of search history and site cookies to better target potential customers.

It’s all a little scary, right?

If you’re in an abusive relationship, or if you’ve left one, you are likely even more concerned than the average person about maintaining privacy online. For most of us it may not be possible to opt out of using the internet altogether, but there are a few things you can do to maximize your online privacy:

Read more

behindthescreens-harassment

Behind the Screens: What is Digital Abuse?

behindthescreens-harassmentThis is a post in our Behind the Screens series, which explores issues related to digital abuse.

The prevalence of digital abuse has been gaining traction in the media lately, and our advocates frequently field questions from callers and chatters about it. Still, many people don’t know what constitutes digital abuse and are not able to recognize the signs. It is especially common among young people who are typically using technology in almost every aspect of their lives, but anyone can be a victim of digital abuse.

Digital abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. In most cases, this type of abuse is emotional and/or verbal and though it is perpetuated online, it has a strong impact on a victim’s real life. According to advocates at loveisrespect, your partner may be digitally abusing you if he/she:

Read more