Getting to Know The Technology Around You

Women are often told to watch their surroundings, take self-defense classes and much more in order to protect themselves from the threat of violence. But threats are all around. Technology can pose one of the biggest threats as devices you use every day can, unfortunately, be used to spy on or monitor and control you. One of the simplest ways to protect yourself is to identify possible tech threats around you.

Below, shares tips on identifying and understanding the devices you use every day from their article Safe Connectivity Tips for Domestic Violence Victims.

Identify and Understand the Technology Around You

If you’re living with your abuser, or still in a relationship with them in some way, the first step is to take an inventory of what smart technology devices are in your home. Abusers can use internet-, home network-, WiFi-, or Bluetooth-connected speakers, cameras, locks, doorbells and more to harass, stalk, harm and otherwise attempt to control your movements and activities.

They can also use smart toys and items designed to increase children’s safety, such as baby monitors, in invasive ways. NNEDV notes that some toys “come equipped with cameras, microphones, and speakers so the toys can interact with the child,” but most of these toys are not built with strong security protections and may give “unauthorized video or audio access … [that] could be used to stalk, control or harass a survivor.”

Make a list of all the devices you can find in your home and identify who installed them and who has access to the device’s account or app. Some tech is easily visible; other tech, such as motion sensors tucked on book shelves or in room corners, may be less obvious. If you are unsure what devices are currently active in your home, or are concerned some might be hidden, NNEDV has put together a detailed list of gadgets to look for, along with potential tactics abusers may attempt.

A few common household devices the NNEDV includes on its list:

  • Thermostat
  • Smoke detectors
  • Video doorbells
  • Entertainment systems
  • Smart lightbulbs
  • Appliances

NNEDV also suggests understanding the Wi-Fi you use and checking that Wi-Fi network history to see what devices are or have been connected. However, it also suggests you don’t simply delete the whole history because that may give your abuser a heads up that you’re looking into these issues.

Don’t simply delete your whole browsing history because that may give your abuser a heads up that you’re looking into these issues.

National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)

Once you’ve identified what’s being used in your home, educate yourself about how the devices work, how they’re being used and what information they might be tracking. And if you use technology like Google HomeAlexa, and Siri, there are ways you can opt out of the tracking features that come with them. Also figure out how to spot changes in the tech — whether it’s a device that begins working differently or a new device that appears in your home.

And recognize that what’s going on around you in your home may be happening specifically because your abuser is controlling this kind of tech. Graciela Rodriguez, who runs an emergency shelter at the Center for Domestic Peace in San Rafael, California, spoke with The New York Times about what she’s been hearing more recently from those accessing the shelter’s services. She told the New York Times that “some people had recently come in with tales of ‘the crazy-making things’ like thermostats suddenly kicking up to 100 degrees or smart speakers turning on blasting music. They feel like they’re losing control of their home. After they spend a few days here, they realize they were being abused.”


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