I read this article about digital abuse of women from a fellow blogger. I want to direct our readers to her site, Speaking From Experience. She survived a physically abusive marriage and is now speaking out against abuse by sharing her experiences with others and spreading awareness, as we are trying to do with our blog. She is extremely brave and strong, so please visit her page and read her posts. I was so inspired by her article that I obsessed over the subject in my head for days. It sickens me that so many women who are abused are controlled and puppeted in so many different ways. Their every move is tracked and their abuser holds all the cards. I mulled over this problem in my head for so long that I am sure it began to plague me, even while I slept.
The other night I had an anxiety nightmare. In my dream, my first abusive boyfriend had forced his way back into my life, despite my protests. He made himself known to all of my family and friends and he proceeded to turn them against me. He also took my phone, without my knowing, and projected my private information onto a large screen for all to see. I felt violated. I began to lecture all of my family and friends, telling them that they were supporting his abuse and that they should be ashamed of themselves. I remember feeling helpless and angry under his power and control, once again.
Our abusers have such an arsenal at their disposal for intimidating and controlling us . . . I say we use this arsenal against them.
In real life, shortly before leaving that manipulative relationship, this boyfriend had hacked into my cell phone account and looked up all the phone numbers I was texting. He then looked up information on all the people I sent messages to. He would accuse me of cheating, even though our relationship was open (at least, for him it was open, for me it was closed, I was supposed to have eyes only for him). After I left him, he stalked me physically, showing up outside of my work or randomly showing up to return books I had given him (slipping notes inside them). He threatened to go to my parents and disclose intimate and highly personal facts about our relationship if I didn’t talk to him. He would text me in the middle of the night and say he was in the ER, hoping for a response. He would leave a box of items I gave to him as gifts on my driveway. I felt like he was everywhere. I never knew if he might show up at my home or my work. I didn’t know if he would ever approach my parents about us. I dreaded leaving my house to go to the grocery store, in fear of running into him. He tried to constantly push his way back into my life. For years I had recurring nightmares that he had followed me to other states or cities to try and control me even more.
There are other women who have experienced even worse stalking or digital abuse. Our abusers have such an arsenal at their disposal for intimidating and controlling us. We are forced to change our phone numbers, our emails, our phone accounts, and our Facebook accounts. Sometimes we are forced to change our addresses. And most of the time this type of post-breakup stalking is not reported to the police, either because the victim is not comfortable with talking to the authorities or because they have mistakenly grown up with the assumption that stalking cannot be stopped. I have also witnessed a disturbing pattern in my previous abusive relationships. Both of my abusers had online anonymity. Beware of anyone who is concerned with not being easily tracked online! This is because they are adept at stalking others on the web.
I say we use this arsenal against them. It’s time we turn our Facebook accounts and our websites against these abusers. We must share our stories and experiences. Let others know the dangers of unhealthy relationships. Educate others on the signs. These abusers cannot hide anymore. We have so much information available at our fingertips and our tormenters have textbook techniques in manipulation. If we get the word out and share our own experiences as much as possible, others will become enlightened and hopefully follow. We will create a formidable army of educated and inspired warriors. We will win this battle.
*Image pulled from this page.