Digital Technology and Domestic Violence

This article aims to provide you with insights regarding the impact digital technology has on the rising concern of domestic violence. It further deals with reforms and suggestions to curb this problem.

Understanding the Meaning of Tech Abuse

The use of technology to commit domestic abuse, often known as tech abuse, is on the rise. According to the Domestic Violence Charity Refuge, 72% of women who used its services in 2019 claimed to have experienced abuse made possible by technology. Commonplace gadgets like smartphones and tablets can be abused to threaten, stalk, and harass their victims.

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Some organisations have expressed worry that the rising use of internet-connected home appliances (such as smart speakers) may give criminals access to a greater variety of highly developed instruments for harming people.

Numerous techniques can be used to monitor, stalk, harass, and impersonate victims using technology. A victim’s whereabouts and communications could be recorded, for instance, using software that has been put on their mobile phone or smart home appliances.

The various facets of technology abuse are addressed by a variety of government policies and legal frameworks, including domestic abuse law, government online harms policy and cyber security policy for internet-connected devices.

Research on tech abuse so far has been concentrated on widely used internet-connected gadgets like smartphones and laptops, and it has been demonstrated that they have been regularly used for online surveillance, harassment, and abuse.

Tech Abuse During the COVID-19 Pandemic

There are concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more common for technology to be misused to commit abuse and for victims to use technology to get support. During the pandemic, the most prevalent forms of technological abuse — harassment, limiting access to technology, and surveillance rose.

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In the UK, there has been a widely documented rise in the number of persons using domestic violence support programmes.

In addition to pressuring people to adopt digital working practices, COVID-19 also urged them to consider their data management and use practices with greater care.

Besides that, the number of cases reported to the Revenge Porn Helpline, a hotline for victims of image-based sex assault, increased by 98% in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

Related: Positive and Negative Impacts of COVID on Environment

Assessing Arguments Regarding the Impact of Technology on Domestic Violence

Here, we will be weighing the arguments and opinions laid out about the impact of technology on domestic violence.

Prevention and Support Through Technology

Tech developers have created numerous apps and digital inventions to aid survivors during and after an act of domestic violence. Many of these apps concentrate on informing users about nearby services, including lodging, healthcare, and counselling. Getting assistance immediately during an event is one of the primary aims of several apps. When approached by an abuser, several wearable Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets enable victims to signal for assistance covertly. While useful in daily life, digital devices can also negatively impact domestic abuse victims.

When Technology Is the Enemy

Attacks against victims can be planned and carried out using their own tools.

A component of intimate relationship abuse known as “coercive control” comprises emotional terrorism and the ongoing dominance of one person over another. The perpetrator engages in both implicit and overt acts of intimidation and menace, and there is a focus on reducing the victim’s or survivor’s independence. By reducing her independence and fostering dread, technology can be misused to improve a perpetrator’s control over a victim’s or survivor’s life. It’s important to note that domestic violence caused by technology is perhaps another form of abuse in the relationship.

Personal security and privacy are severely threatened by the pervasiveness of these technologies, as well as elements like GPS monitoring, cloud-based storage, and platform integration. For victims of domestic abuse, this is especially true as abusers use technology in their abusive habits; the power and fear that define domestic violence encounters have expanded in scope. Information Communication Technology (ICTs) undoubtedly provide domestic abuse survivors crucial chances for support, communication, and help-seeking. Domestic violence victims, however, are a particularly at-risk group of customers who run the risk of losing control over and access to their telecommunications accounts as well as their privacy rights, personal security, and physical safety when technology is misused.

Existing Provisions to Deal With the Impact of Technology on Domestic Violence

Provisions from the Lisbon Treaty

The Lisbon Treaty gave the EU clear legal authority to regulate the rights of crime victims, including those who have experienced domestic violence. In a resolution on the abolition of violence against women adopted in November 2009, the European Parliament urged its members to strengthen their domestic legal frameworks and anti-violence initiatives. As a result, the EU established the hugely successful Daphne initiative, providing significant financing for knowledge, research, and teaching.

Istanbul Convention

The Istanbul Convention by the Council of Europe from 2011 is the other clause. Forty-five nations, including the European Union, have signed it. By its provisions, it solely provides safety for women. The UK is one of the nations that has made it clear that its own approach will be gender-neutral.

The most comprehensive package of provisions for preventing and combatting all forms of violence against women, including domestic abuse, is provided by the historic Istanbul Convention. This type of violence is seen as a breach of human rights and a form of discrimination against women, and it is closely related to the realisation of women’s equality with men.

Suggestions to Reform Present Laws and Systems on the Impact of Technology on Domestic Violence

The need for cross-border protection against domestic abuse online is critical. The protections against cross-border domestic violence that are now in place are uneven, limited to a few countries, and enforced only sporadically. Orders for national protection are useless. However, it still constitutes domestic abuse.

To provide cross-border protection through the recognition and execution of orders, international laws are required. Researchers and charities have suggested several ways to combat technology abuse, including targeted government policies, designing tech products in a way to reduce opportunities for abuse, and giving victims and support staff the knowledge and abilities to recognise and prevent technology abuse.


While access to information and help is made possible by technology, a victim’s situation and the intricate dynamics of their abuse may make it difficult for them to make use of it. Although abusers frequently use technology to harass, threaten, manipulate, monitor, exploit, and violate their victims, it may also be incredibly useful to those who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Read Next:
1. Why Marital Rape Should Be Criminalised and Why It Shouldn’t
2. What Are the Laws on Cyberstalking in India?
3. Role of AI in Legal Education and Legal Profession

Kavya Srinivasan
WritingLaw » Law Articles » Impact of Digital Technology on Domestic Violence Law Study Material
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