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Sun. May 26th, 2024

In collaboration with the Armidale Domestic & Family Violence Steering Committee (ADFVSC), the eSafety will be visiting Armidale on the 13th of June for a workshop on tech abuse.

A workshop has been organised to  improve awareness of how digital technologies, such as smart phones and baby monitors,  are being weaponised in situations of family, domestic and sexual violence. 

Recent research by ANROWS, a national research agency focused on women’s safety, indicates around one in five Australian adults are likely to have experienced tech abuse as part of a broader pattern of violence by a current or former intimate partner

The eSafety Commissioner reports that perpetrators are using a range of low-tech and hi tech methods to track their partner’s or ex-partner’s location, conversations, payments  and appointments. 

“This type of tech abuse is so harmful because it’s like a spiderweb that binds a person to the perpetrator, often reinforcing  very harmful and unequal power dynamics in a relationship,” eSafety Trainer Paula Smith said. 

“The abuse is often invisible to friends and family because the perpetrator is so skilled at manipulating or hiding behind technology to control, humiliate and demoralise their target.”

“In many cases, it makes it even harder for a person to leave an abusive relationship.”

“Perpetrators misuse devices designed to connect people to harass, stalk, intimidate and  make threats. The impact is often highly traumatic, eroding the target’s confidence and  sense of safety.” 

Common tactics include: 

  • being locked out of devices or online accounts, including bank accounts
  • constant and unwanted texts or calls 
  • video recordings of intimate activities (sexual, as well as in the bathroom or bedroom)
  • threatening to share, or sharing, intimate images or videos 
  • sharing images or videos that have been digitally altered to humiliate and shame the  target 
  • using security and monitoring devices to track the target without their consent. 

If you’re experiencing any form of abuse from a current or former partner, you’re not alone and support is available, locally and online. 

In cases of online abuse, eSafety can help you to quickly remove seriously harmful  content, no matter where it is hosted, if you report it to eSafety.gov.au.

Local Solicitor and Vice Chair of the ADFVSC, Terri Coleman, said that family, domestic and  sexual violence occurs in all Australian communities, and preventing it requires a coordinated, holistic response. 

“The ADFVSC and eSafety are working together to train family services and health workers in Armidale to support their clients to respond to tech abuse as part of a broader approach to leaving abusive relationships safely,” Ms Coleman said. 

Signs that someone might be a target of tech abuse include: 

  • they have limited or supervised access to their personal devices 
  • they receive constant and unwelcome calls and texts when not with their partner /  ex-partner 
  • their messages are frequently monitored or read by the partner / ex-partner
  • their partners / ex-partners know their movements without being told
  • hurtful or vengeful social media content is shared about them by unknown or unverified social media accounts. 

If you see someone experiencing any of these, it’s important to have a supportive and discreet conversation to let them know that help is available, including local, confidential services. 

eSafety also provide free social media self-defence webinars about once a month to anyone who wants to know how to use in-built safety and privacy settings on social media.  This can help protect you from all sorts of online harms, including trolling. 

Impacted by family and domestic violence? Call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) for 24/7  confidential information, counselling and advice or visit 1800respect.org.au 

To report image-based abuse, visit eSafety.gov.au/report 

For more information about tech abuse: esafety.gov.au/key-issues/domestic-family-violence 

To register for the Armidale social media self-defence workshop, log on to  https://www.123tix.com.au/events

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