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Florida Family Law

The Importance of Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence in the Digital Age

Family Law Attorney Helps Clients Get Protected Against Online Domestic Violence

 

By Christopher D. Sempier | Family Law Attorney
Posted on April 30, 2018

Technology makes our lives easier when we search for something online or try to stay connected with family and friends. However, for a victim of domestic violence, technology can make life more difficult.

What Digital Domestic Abuse Looks Like

Most of the attention regarding digital crimes are focused on high-tech computer crimes such as hacking, online fraud, identity theft, child exploitation, and cyberbullying.  Less attention has been paid to technology-driven sexual violence where people perpetrate, sexual assault, enhance control, abuse, or share intimate or sexual images without the other person’s consent digitally.

Domestic violence in the digital age ranges from sexually harassing a partner online, revenge porn, controlling a partner’s social media accounts, requiring a partner to keep their phone on to respond to calls and texts immediately, and using technology to see what a person is doing both online and off.

Abusers use cell phones to gain access to detailed information such as call logs, applications, and GPS services which can be used to track down and intimidate their victims.  Technology gives abusers more control by allowing them to use geolocation software and spyware to watch, monitor, and track their victim’s movements.  In a 2015 Women’s Aid survey, it was found that nearly a third of survivors had experience with a partner or ex-partner using spyware or the GPS on their phone or computer to locate their victims.

Widespread misconceptions often downplay and dismiss domestic violence in the digital world as a less severe crime than the abuse that’s committed in “real life.”  However, in cases of domestic abuse, online abuse should be treated as an underlying part of the abusive control that involves men and women’s personal lives.

Supporting Victims

Most victims of digital abuse do not look for support centers, hotlines, or websites for help because many of them do not feel scared by their experiences, or do not see themselves as victims of domestic abuse.  For those that are experiencing digital abuse, there are resources such as The National Domestic Abuse Hotline and LoveisRespect which offer talk, text, and online chat functions.

Although there have been some developments in various international jurisdictions, such as with “revenge pornography” and “stalking protection orders,” there are still many improvements to be made within and beyond the law regarding digital domestic abuse.

Some states are putting bills into place to help victims break away from their abusers.  For example, some allow individuals tied to a family plan to have sole access to their phone’s wireless account, which contains sensitive information that can be used to hurt them.  In addition, family courts will not be able to ask wireless service providers to supply account information for those who are in a violent situation.

For more information regarding domestic violence and how you can get the help you need, including how to file a petition for a domestic violence injunction, call today to speak with one of our experienced domestic violence lawyers or fill the outline form located on this page.  At The Roberts Family Law Firm, we work hard to help keep you and your family safe.

Another excellent source of help is the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which you can call 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 to receive advice and support from highly-trained advocates.

 

Christopher D. Sempier
Family Law Attorney

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