Written by Amy Beecham
Tech abuse is on the rise in England and Wales. Here’s how to stay safe digitally after a break-up.
The aftermath of a break-up is an emotionally difficult time. The hurt and confusion are coupled with the logistical nightmare of collecting your belongings and ceasing physical contact.
But according to domestic violence charity Refuge, we need to be more aware of one more important step in the process: breaking up digitally.
However, this doesn’t just mean unfollowing an ex on social media. In England and Wales, one in four women will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime, and tech abuse is an increasing part of that problem, the charity says.
Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that an ex doesn’t have access to your digital life, from your email or social media, to online banking apps and shopping accounts.
Based on a survey of 2000 people, cybersecurity company Avast and Refuge identified that 20% of respondents still know their ex-partner’s passwords, and one in 10 said they have access to an ex-partner’s location through apps such as Find My Friends, Google location sharing, or Snapchat.
Of those who know their ex-partner’s password, 35% admitted they still have access to their exes Facebook account and 33% admitted they can still access the work email account of an ex-partner
“Tech abuse is a growing problem, and involves much more than sharing passwords. It can be anything from unwanted messages, spyware or stalkerware being installed on devices, to controlling or harassing someone via home tech,” said Refuge CEO Ruth Davison.
“Technology is increasingly an integrated part of our lives and perpetrators are finding new ways to control and abuse women.
“This is why we have teamed up with Avast to launch our Digital Break-Up Kit. By creating this tool, we aim to raise awareness of tech abuse, and also encourage women to be able to create clear boundaries for their tech security with their ex partners. The solution must not be to force women offline, it must be to empower them to use tech safely and confidently.”
Refuge’s Digital Break-Up tool, which is live now, includes a step-by-step guide on how to identify potential tech-based vulnerabilities and guidance on how to re-establish privacy and security across devices and platforms to support women in digitally disentangling themselves from ex-partners.
“In creating this tool, we hope to empower women to take control of their devices and enable them to enjoy their digital freedom, either at the start or end of a relationship,” added Jaya Baloo, chief information security officer at Avast.
In the UK, the domestic violence helpline is 0808 2000 247. Alternatively, contact Women’s Aid or Refuge for advice and support.
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