Violence isn’t always physical
Nonconsensual pornography …
… are all types of technology-facilitated abuse.
What is Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence (TFGBV)?
Technology-facilitated abuse is the use of technology and the internet to bully, harass, stalk, intimidate, or control a partner. It can happen to anyone, but especially to women, children, and gender-diverse people. BIPOC, those with disabilities, and the 2SLGTBQIA+ community are disproportionately affected.
The BC Society of Transition Houses reports that “perpetrators are increasingly misusing a variety of telephone, surveillance, computer technologies, apps and social media platforms to harass, terrify, intimidate, coerce, and monitor women and girls. Perpetrators are also misusing technology to stalk women and girls before, during, and after perpetrating sexual violence.”
Examples of digitally abusive behavior include:
- Telling you who you can or can’t follow, or be friends with on social media
- Sending you negative, insulting, or threatening messages or emails
- Tracking you using social media to follow your activities
- Insulting or humiliating you in their posts online, including posting unflattering photos or videos
- Demanding or pressuring you to send unwanted explicit photos or videos, sexts, or otherwise compromising messages
- Stealing or insisting on being given your account passwords
- Constantly texting you or making you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you’ll anger them
- Looking through your phone or checking up on your pictures, texts, and phone records
- Monitoring you using any kind of technology (such as spyware or GPS in a car or phone) to monitor your activities
- Surveilling you using smart home technology, smart speakers, or security cameras to track your movements, communications, and activities
- Embarrassing or isolating you by creating fake social media profiles in your name and image, or using your phone or email to send messages to others pretending to be you
Because technology and apps change so rapidly it is easy to feel overwhelmed, and like we don’t have control, when it comes to our digital safety.
How to Manage Your Smartphone Safety
- Put a passcode on your phone – it’s the easiest way to increase security and privacy.
- Turn off location sharing – always question whether it is necessary for a new app to have that information, and consider how that information might be stored or shared.
- Turn off Bluetooth when not in use – it can be misused to access your information or intercept your calls.
- Check your privacy & security settings – these controls allow you to limit an application’s access to data on your phone including your location, pictures, contacts etc.
- Update passwords frequently – even though it’s a pain to remember new passwords, it is an easy way to protect yourself from someone else, like an ex, accessing your accounts and information.
What to do if you are experiencing TFGBV?
You can always call our Crisis & Information Line if you – or someone you care about – are experiencing technology-facilitated abuse by an intimate partner. Help is available 24hrs, 250.385.6611.
Tech abuse is often part of a wider pattern of abuse. If you believe you are being stalked, harassed, or threatened via technology, trust your instincts. You are not alone. Below you’ll find information helpful to survivors of tech-facilitated gender-based violence to increase privacy and plan for safer tech use.
If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1
It Can Be TFGBV If Someone:
- Controls your phone
- Takes your phone away from you
- Breaks your phone
- Makes you share your phone
- Controls your online accounts
- Stops you from using your online accounts
- Uses your online accounts when you don’t want them to
- Shares pictures of you that you don’t want people to see
- Tells you they will share pictures of you that you don’t want people to see unless you do what they want
It Can Be TFGVB If Someone Watches What You Do Using:
- Your phone
- Hidden cameras
It Can Be TFGBV If Someone Uses Tech to:
- Find out where you are when you don’t want them to
- Find out what you are doing when you don’t want them to
- Follow you
Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence (TFGBV) is part of a continuum of violence that can be both online and in-person. If you or someone you know is experiencing TFGBV, you are not alone.
Find ways to help you use technology safely from the Women’s Shelters Canada Tech Safety Canada project
Learn more about TFGBV
Find more information and support from these websites
Supporting Teens Experiencing Digital Dating Violence – BC Society of Transition Houses (bcsth.ca)
Technology-Facilitated Abuse (vawnet.org)
Teen Digital Relationship Abuse – The White Hatter
BC Society of Transition Houses – A guide for Canadian women experiencing technology-facilitated violence (PDF)
Home – Tech Safety Canada
Funding for this Victims and Survivors of Crime Week Technology-facilitated gender based violence information campaign was provided through the Department of Justice Canada.