12 NEWS DEFENDERS: Experts warn digital abuse growing - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

12 NEWS DEFENDERS: Experts warn digital abuse growing

Posted: Updated:
  • More newsMore>>

  • US military targets extremists in Somalia

    US military targets extremists in Somalia

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 2:54 AM EDT2014-09-02 06:54:47 GMT
    The Pentagon says U.S. military forces have targeted the Islamic extremist al-Shabaab network in an operation in Somalia.More >>
    U.S. military forces targeted the Islamic extremist al-Shabab network in an operation Monday in Somalia, the Pentagon said.More >>
  • Detroit's historic bankruptcy trial to begin

    Detroit's historic bankruptcy trial to begin

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 2:11 AM EDT2014-09-02 06:11:03 GMT
    Lawyers for Detroit will attempt to convince a judge with the start of the city's bankruptcy trial that its plans to wipe out billions of dollars in debt should be approved.More >>
    Lawyers for Detroit will attempt to convince a federal judge at the city's bankruptcy trial that its plans to wipe out billions of dollars in debt should be approved.More >>
  • Civil disobedience expected in fast-food pay fight

    Civil disobedience expected in fast-food pay fight

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 12:29 AM EDT2014-09-02 04:29:46 GMT
    McDonald's, Wendy's and other fast-food restaurants are expected to be targeted with acts of civil disobedience that could lead to arrests Thursday as labor organizers escalate their campaign to unionize...More >>
    McDonald's, Wendy's and other fast-food restaurants are expected to be targeted with acts of civil disobedience that could lead to arrests Thursday as labor organizers escalate their campaign to unionize the...More >>
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

It's new. It's increasing and it can be dangerous.  

Experts are warning of a growing form of domestic violence they call "digital abuse". It's when one partner uses technology to control and intimidate their significant other. Mental health professionals say it's such a new problem you could even be in a digitally abusive relationship and not realize it.  

​The constant calls, the threatening texts, brittny says her ex-boyfriend's electronic communication was relentless.  

"I was always fearful of not answering my phone when he called and not responding to his text messages." 

After months of high-tech harassment, brittny says she realized she was a victim of "digital domestic abuse" a new problem Psychiatrist Gail Saltz says is growing.  

"Now, sadly people are using digital technology to exert their power, their influence, control 24/7." 

Digital abuse is just starting to be recognized by experts and goes beyond constant phone calls and text messages. At the national domestic violence hotline, many callers report their partner's smartphone and social media surveillance is increasing.  

"Things that range from constantly checking to what they're posting on social media, asking for passwords, to more extreme cases as where partners create fake identifies on facebook to see if they can get their partner to engage with someone else, and then accusing them of cheating and flirting in appropriately." 

The popularity of being constantly connected can make recognizing a problem difficult.   

"Isn't this what everybody does? You know, everybody is on social networking, everybody is texting, isn't that just normal behavior?" 

The president of the national domestic violence hotline says that normal behavior can turn to obsession. It's important to recognize warning signs.  

"Extreme jealousy, monitoring, isolation."  

This cyber crime specialist warns digital abusers can escalate their surveillance by using apps which monitor their partner's location through their phone's GPS or installing keylogging software that records what they type on a computer. 

"No one needs to be a computer genius to install this software. This software is very, very easy to install." 

Doctor Saltz says even more troubling, digital abuse can turn dangerous.  

"People of all ages are vulnerable to the use of digital technology to basically be abusive and that abuse that starts in that way can often lead to, directly to physical abuse." 

Brittny says when her ex-boyfriend's digital abuse became physical she ended the relationship. Now she warns others who think their digital boundaries may be violated to reach out for help right away.    

"When I was going through this, I felt like I was completely alone. I didn't tell anybody about what was happening." 

For more information on how to tell if you're in a digitally abusive relationship and advice on how to deal with it, check our website.  

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow