Abusers Are Using Smart Home Technology Against Survivors

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

Abusers unlock doors, change temperatures and listen in on cameras as a new way to torture.

Survivors who have left their abusers assume they are living a safe, new existence but are being besieged by random acts of confusion aimed at setting them on edge, and portraying them as delusional to law enforcement and the courts when they report it.

Abusers remotely turn on the heat in the survivor’s house via her smart thermostat during the hottest days of summer. They remotely unlock the survivor’s home and car doors. When the survivor tries to report it, they can petition the judge in their children’s custody case saying it’s a security issue they’re worried about, making the survivor appear as an unfit mother. They unlock the survivor’s electronic front door, go inside and take just one item from her home at a time leaving her feeling on edge and unable to report it without proof.

Other reported incidents of abusers included listening in through a survivors’ smart TVs, devices like Amazon Alexa or Echo, or wi-fi-enabled home security cameras. Those who are tech savvy can figure out how to use them as built-in spy devices eavesdropping on conversations in whatever room of the home these devices are placed in, and then using that information to stalk, threaten or intimidate a survivor. Often these things go hand-in-hand with other types of abuse or child custody battles, with the abuser tormenting the protective parent before court to make them rattled and appear mentally ill.

According to experts, survivors should change wi-fi passwords frequently using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols that are not connected to the survivor.

Think about getting rid of smart TVs or Alexa in your home.

Avoid using public wi-fi for your devices. Turn off your “automatically connect settings.”

Make sure software for all your devices is updated regularly. If possible, buy a router that has smart home-security built into it.

Keep a log of all the suspicious activity occurring to report your case.

The use of tech to stalk is real, and it will always outpace law enforcement, legislation and victim resources.

In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Claude tapes Katie’s telephone conversations, hires private detectives to follow her, bribes the police, threatens to take her daughter away from her and keeps her financially dependent, until fearing for her life and the safety of her daughter, Katie breaks free.

Take good care of yourselves,