On this page, you will find general information about cyber abuse. You can also learn more by downloading SHARE’s brochure on the topic here.
General Information About Cyber Abuse
Technology-Facilitated Sexual Misconduct
Just as technology is now intertwined with most aspects of daily life in our society, it has also become another tool for those who engage in sexual misconduct. Both in cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) and in cases where the harm-doer may not be as well-known (as in stalking or harassment), reliance on tech is a growing area of concern because it is widely available and easy to implement. And because it is not always easy to trace or identify, it provides a wide latitude for exercising control or psychologically abusing, Several terms are used to define cyber abuse (which may or may not be sexual in nature) including cyber-harassment, cyberstalking, cyber-bullying, and digital abuse. The common factor is the use of technology to establish power and control by causing fear and/or intimidation.
Some examples of how technology is used to conduct sexual misconduct include:
- Social media– getting passwords, sharing information without permission, impersonation, public humiliation, threats, enlisting others to harass, exposing public information, setting up fake profiles such as on Tinder.
- Device access – obtaining access through icloud-type platform, installing spyware, locking someone out of their accounts, hacking (even unsophisticated), changing privacy settings or passwords, destroying digital data, compelling partners to provide passwords, overseeing all virtual conversations (email, text, other).
- Location tracking – “Flexispy,” one of many location-tracker, advertised to abusers.
- Doxying – sourcing and collecting someone’s personal/private information and then publicly releasing it online.
- Spoofing – Falsifying phone number (for caller ID), email address, IP address, location/GPS, to confuse source of communication.
- Non-consensual image sharing – This can include “revenge porn” but can include sharing nude pictures sent when the relationship was in good terms. Also, the treat of image sharing can be used to manipulate.
- Deepfakes – Videos in which a person’s face/voice can be interposed in another video, such as pornography, to make them appear as though the participated in certain acts or made certain statements. Of note, deepfake technology is more advanced when it comes to inserting female-presenting individuals.
Cyber abuse can be as serious as any other type of abuse. If something is upsetting to you, REACH OUT. Talk to a friend, SHARE, a Title IX Coordinator, or a trusted person to process your experience and explore your options.
If you or someone you know is experiencing Cyber Abuse: Plan for safety. If you feel that you are in immediate danger, go to a safe place and call 911 or someone you trust. Talk with someone about your experience. Cyber abuse can be traumatizing and it is crucial to have support. Know that you are not alone. Know that you are not to blame.