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Domestic abuse has gone digital - but it's still abuse

One of the more uncomfortable issues for most people to discuss is domestic violence. But keeping silent on the issue does not solve the problem, and often makes it worse. Victims of domestic violence may have a very difficult time getting away from their abuser and finding the courage to seek divorce.

Conversely, those who are falsely accused of domestic violence may suffer serious consequences including loss of child custody and visitation rights. With all that is at stake, domestic violence and allegations of it need to be addressed with the help of an experienced attorney.

Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological/emotional abuse and intimidation through threats. But with the growing use of mobile technology, a new form of domestic violence has seemingly emerged. Many are calling it "digital abuse."

The platform may be new, but the tactics are not. Experts say that those who commit digital abuse exert power, control and intimidation over their spouse or significant other through the use of email, cellphone calls, texts and social media.

For instance, some abusers may constantly text or call their spouse and get angry if their spouse does not respond immediately. Some abusers also use location tracking software on their spouse's cellphone to constantly keep tabs on their location.

Email and social media are another way to exert power and control. Abusers may demand to know their spouse's passwords to online accounts or figure them out through hacking. They can then monitor the accounts to limit who their spouse can communicate with and what they can say.

In some cases, spouses with extreme jealousy issues may create fake Facebook profiles. They then pose as someone else and try to get their spouse to engage in flirting or other conversations. This is so they can "prove" that their spouse is being unfaithful.

If any of these behaviors are familiar to you, you might be a victim of digital abuse. This is not only a problem in its own right; it can also escalate into physical violence and other forms of domestic abuse.

There are many domestic violence resources you can contact if you need help getting away from an abuser. Because your spouse may have installed monitoring software on your phone and computer, please use other devices to reach out for help.

Source: CBS Miami, "Experts Warn Of Growing Digital Domestic Abuse," Vanessa Borge, May 22, 2014

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