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About Abuse

Abuse Using Technology

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Updated: August 23, 2016

What is electronic surveillance?

Electronic surveillance is a broad term used to describe when someone watches another person’s actions or monitors a person’s conversations without his/her knowledge or consent by using one or more electronic devices or platforms.  In a relationship where there is domestic violence or stalking, an abuser may use recording and surveillance technology to “keep tabs” on you (the victim) by monitoring your whereabouts and conversations.  The motive for using electronic surveillance may be to maintain power and control over you, to make it hard for you to have any privacy or a life separate from the abuser, and/or to try to discover (and stop) any plans you may be making to leave the abuser.

Electronic surveillance can be done by misusing cameras, recorders, wiretaps, social media, or email.  It can also include the misuse of monitoring software (also known as spyware), which can be installed on a computer, tablet, or a smartphone to secretly monitor the device activity without the user’s knowledge.  Spyware can allow the abusive person access to everything on the phone, as well as the ability to intercept and listen in on phone calls.  To learn more about spyware, visit the Safety Net’s Toolkit for Survivors or go to our Crimes page to see if there is a specific spyware law in your state.