27th January 2022

Tech-abuse – lock down after lockdown

Technology has been a massive benefit during lockdown, but for people experiencing domestic abuse there is a risk it can be used to make their situation worse and increase harm.

Modern technology has entertained us in a time of isolation, kept us in touch with friends and family and up to date with the pandemic. It can give perpetrators of domestic abuse, however, a way to stalk, isolate and control their victims further.

Somerset County Council has produced a guide ‘Fifteen ways to lock down your tech’, with top tips on how you can keep your technology secure, stay safe online and reduce the risk of technological facilitated abuse.

If not locked down, technology can be used to take intimate images of victims against their permission and used to intimidate and humiliate them. Abusers can also gain access to a victim’s personal technology devices, online email and social media accounts.

Tracking apps, covert CCTV, listening devices, key tracking software and the checking of all calls and texts are just some of the ways victims have been controlled.

The guide includes tips on how to protect passwords, two-factor authentication and how to keep social media accounts safe. It can be viewed at: https://somersetsurvivors.org.uk/somerset-survivors/tech-abuse-fifteen-ways-to-lock-down-your-tech/

Cllr Clare Paul, Somerset County Council Cabinet member with responsibility for health and wellbeing said: “It is important in this changing world that we embrace technology, but not at the cost of our wellbeing. So, it is crucial to make sure that your devices are kept secure and your email and social media accounts are protected from anyone who could use them to harm you.

“I urge everyone to read this informative guide, use it to review the security of the technology in their lives and share it with others so that they can do the same.”

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, worried about someone you know, or are concerned about the impact of your behaviour towards others, then help is available: www.somersetsurvivors.org.uk or by telephoning 0800 69 49 999.

In an emergency you should always dial 999. If you are worried that an abuser may overhear your call you can remain silent, tap the phone and dial 55 when prompted by the operator who will send help.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired you can register with emergencySMS.net. Once registered you will be able to send a text to 999 if you require help in an emergency.