The Internet of Things (IoT) is more of a reality than ever as lights, security cameras, doors, cars and entire homes are becoming connected and controllable with a flick of a button or a few voice commands. For some women, the IoT is also the latest way that their abusers have found to victimize them further.
Known as "smart abuse," it's the sort of technologically enabled harassment that wouldn't have been possible only a few years ago. However, abusers now have the ability to use web-connected devices like smart speakers and surveillance equipment to manipulate, terrorize and control their victims. Even when a victim leaves an abuser, a clever abuser can find technological ways to continually invade the privacy of the victim.
Does it sound like something out of a science fiction-horror movie? It might -- if it weren't already a reality for many women. Some women have been trapped inside their homes by security devices that their abusers control. Others have found their every movement tracked through geo-location devices. Some find their social media accounts hacked and their private messages stolen.
In one case, a woman in California living in a tech-enabled home found her abusive ex had infiltrated the system and monitored her movements or harassed her psychologically by doing things that made it clear she was never far from his reach: flicking the lights on and off or turning the radio on in the middle of the night.
More than ever, it's important for the victims of domestic violence to reach out to others for help. It's often more possible than they realize to find avenues away from their abuser -- and to shut the abuser down and stop the harassment. Courts are becoming wise to technological abuses and can add specific language to restraining orders in order to make continued harassment a crime.