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Taking on tech abuse in domestic violence


Refuge,, Comic Relief, funding, tech abuse, trainingIncreasingly, tools and technology are being misused by abusive men.

Domestic violence takes lives and ruins lives, affecting one woman in four at some point in her life in England and Wales alone and killing two women every week.

And modern technology gives perpetrators an ever-growing arsenal of new and pernicious ways to control, isolate, humiliate and dominate women by using the tools of everyday life: a phone, a laptop, a Satnav.

Refuge offers specialist support to women and children who may be experiencing a variety of forms of gender-based violence including: domestic violence; rape and sexual abuse; forced marriage; so-called ‘honour’-based violence; human trafficking and modern slavery; prostitution; and female genital mutilation (FGM).

Refuge supports almost 6,000 women and children on any given day. And women increasingly speak of the following forms of tech abuse:

Apps which mirror the activity from one device onto another device, for example phone or laptop;

Online harassment;

Stolen online identities and credit card fraud;


Revenge pornography;

Tracking apps in cars;

Locator apps in partner’s phones;


‘Doxing’ – putting someone’s personal information such as home address and phone number on-line; and

Spoofing’ and other forms of impersonation – for example creating fake social media accounts, sending messages/pictures while posing as the survivor.

Added this is the increasing evidence suggesting that tools and technology, ranging from mobile phones and social media to online banking and satnavs, are being misused by abusive men to track, isolate, harass and control their partners.

Research by Comic Relief in 2016, for instance, showed that 4 in 5 women who had experienced domestic abuse had seen their activities monitored by their partner.

Refuge has now launched a new programme to tackle technological abuse and economic and technological exclusion caused by the growing misuse of modern technology against victims of domestic abuse.

With funding from, Google’s philanthropic arm, Comic Relief and the Tampon Tax, Refuge aims to set up a system to help protect women from this kind of abuse, andto  enable them to use technology safely as well as unlock the opportunities it affords.

The grant from will allow Refuge to train 300 frontline professionals and set up a dedicated, expert unit to help Refuge’s clients stay safe.

Refuge also launched new digital resources and targeted campaigns to raise awareness and provide support.

And Refuge will be upgrading IMPACT, its case-management system, to provide first-class data on how technological abuse is closely connected to physical domestic violence.

This will not only inform Refuge’s own advocacy work but will be widely shared with the police, other agencies, and government ministers to make sure they understand how technology is misused against women.

If you are experiencing abuse it is important to remember it is not your fault and you are not alone. Refuge can support you. You can find out more about Refuge’s services by clicking here.

And earlier this year Women’s Aid and the international social media platform Facebook launched a guide to help women to stay safe online. You can view or download their guide by clicking here.

If you or a friend are experiencing domestic abuse you can find support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from the Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge) on 0808 2000 247 or by emailing helpline[at]

In an emergency, or if you feel threatened, call the police on 999.

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