Cyberviolence: A New Type of Domestic Violence

A considerable amount of attention has been given to different forms of cybercrimes such as identity theft, online fraud, and hacking. However, not as much consideration has been given to the use of technology for domestic violence. There is also a term for it – ‘cyberviolence’. So, what is cyberviolence and how is it perpetrated? Find out in this guide.

What is Cyberviolence?

Cyberviolence refers to the perpetration of abuse against a current or former partner using digital technology. Its key characteristics are as follows:

  • A variety of coercive and controlling behaviours include cyber-stalking, threatening phone calls, harassment on social media websites, and location tracking.
  • Propagation of intimate images of the partner without their consent.

Underlying Nature of the Issue

The behaviour leading to cyber harassment is quite versatile. The methods of harassment often rely on the technology or the means which are available to the offender. They mostly rely on technologies already in use either by the victim or themselves. Some of the behaviours demonstrated by such offenders include:

  • Consistent abusive text messages and/or voice mails
  • Monitoring the victim’s usage of computer and/or smartphone
  • Gathering the victim’s personal information

An instance of cyber-harassment and violence is a case where a stalker hid a cell phone in a victim’s car and used its GPS tracker to learn about their whereabouts at all times.

What Qualifies as Cyberviolence?

In order for behaviour to qualify as intimate partner cyberviolence or cyber-harassment, it must have the following elements:

  • It should occur within the context of an intimate relationship
  • Technology must be involved in the perpetration of the behaviour

Both these elements don’t usually translate into two completely different issues and need to be considered in conjunction. Cyberviolence is a highly complex area of crime

Cyberviolence & Social Media

Social media has become a commonly used platform for perpetrating cyberviolence. Whether it is domestic violence or violence beyond the scope of intimate partnership, it is characterized by the following systematic behaviour:

  • Tormenting
  • Controlling
  • Isolating in the case of intimate partnerships

Digital technology allows abusers to retain abuse even after separation.

Examples of Cyberviolence

An example of cyberviolence includes offenders entering the victim’s social media accounts or impersonating with the objective of sending messages to damage the latter’s friendships. Another example is the use of private pictures to damage the victim’s reputation and self-esteem. Abusers use the threat of sharing such images with friends and colleagues with the intention of causing embarrassment and/or public humiliation.

There have also been cases where offenders threatened to reveal a victim’s secret diseases to their friends, family members, or the public. In some cases, abusers impersonate the victim and contact their potential employers to sabotage their interviews.

Extending the Scope of Cyberviolence

Many times, offenders have been known to monitor victims via their children. They can give new laptops, computer systems, or smartphones to their child who is living with the victim. These systems are installed with spyware to keep track of their location. Besides, they can also get information from their children’s social media accounts.

Thus, there are different ways that domestic violence can be perpetrated via the cyber way. Whether you or someone close to you is a victim of cyberviolence, it is important to realize that there are ways to fight this menace. You can seek expert legal help and guidance to build your case and take the right steps to bring the abuser to court.

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