Technology can be very helpful to survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking, but is also often misused by abusers to harass, threaten, coerce, monitor, exploit, and violate their victims. The resources below explore the extent and nature of technology-facilitated abuse. Sections in this chapter include "Harassment," "Sexting/Revenge Porn," "Stalking/Surveillance," "Human Trafficking," and "Child Sexual Abuse/Exploitation."
"Online abuse includes a diversity of tactics and malicious behaviors ranging from sharing embarrassing or cruel content about a person to impersonation, doxing, stalking and electronic surveillance to the nonconsensual use of photography and violent threats" (Women's Media Center). Online harassment is intersectional, often incorporating sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression. Abusers may use a vast array of online tactics to harass their victims.
While "sexting" (sharing sexually suggestive or explicit messages/images) can happen between consensual partners as a normal expression of sexuality, it can also be used as a tactic of abuse when one partner feels pressured or coerced into sexting, or when an abuser distributes/threatens to distribute sexually explicit images as nonconsensual pornography (often referred to as "revenge porn"). When sexting involves minors, there can be additional legal implications.
Like other forms of gender-based violence, intimate partner stalking is not new, but advances in technology have given stalkers dangerous new tools.
"The rise of mobile has major implications both for the spread of human trafficking and for anti-trafficking efforts, and should be carefully considered by law enforcement, policymakers, and activists as they develop strategies to combat human trafficking" (Latoreno 2012). As use of the Internet and other forms of technology has spread and human trafficking increasingly takes place online, we must examine the ways that technological advancements can also be used to strengthen anti-trafficking efforts.
Child Sexual Abuse/Exploitation
The Internet and other technology can be valuable learning tools for children and parents, but also present serious concerns regarding children's safety. See the "Promoting Safe and Healthy Online Communities" chapter of this collection for tools and information on how to teach children about internet safety.