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Don’t pick up the phone…Latest Heat Poll shows domestic abusers have found a new way to torment victims.

28 Jan 2016
By Ashleigh Franklin

Mobile phones, ipads and other devices may have become man and woman’s best friend – but they have also become the weapon of choice for abusive ex-partners. In the latest Heat Poll to 14,000 women, approximately two thirds of abused women report that their mobile devices were monitored by their partners to precisely track their location. 

They named smartphones and technology as some of the means of domestic abuse. 1 in 6 Australian women have experienced domestic abuse  and 88% of Aussie women believe monitoring personal communication and technology is a form of abuse. Many Australian women believe the technology they believed had the power to once keep them safe is now helping their abusers to monitor and intimidate them 24/7. 

Women in abusive relationships are more than four times as likely to have their communication with others monitored (58%) versus those who aren’t subject to abuse (13%). Of those who have experienced domestic abuse, nearly half (48%) have had their phone monitored, more than 1 in 3 have had their computer, tablet or emails checked (32%) and almost one quarter (24%) have had their location tracked via hand-held technology. When it comes to location features, more than two thirds of women (64%) claim they serve to make us less safe. 

“This survey is an important step in understanding the issue of domestic violence in 2015,” says Gillian Franklin, Managing Director of the Heat Group. “The challenge with mobile phones and technology in general, is that it be used to provide safety and security, however when put in the wrong hands, it can be abused with alarming results.”

“If we are to combat the issue of domestic violence and respond to it quickly and effectively, we must first understand every form that control and manipulation can take and act accordingly,” continues Ms Franklin. 

The Turnbull Government’s new ‘Women’s Safety Package’ appears to be a huge step in the right direction, with 28% of respondents agreeing the allocation of $5 million to safer technology, including working with telecommunications companies to distribute safe phones to women so that they cannot be tracked by former partners, will make huge inroads when it comes to supporting victims of domestic abuse. Other core areas whereby Australian women believe the Government should provide support is by offering more housing (89%), better legal protection (80%) and more counselling services (70%) to the women living through domestic abuse.

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