How smart devices can make life at home even more difficult for victims of
domestic abuse and violence

It’s no secret that smart devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home have revolutionized the way we
live these days, turning our heat up and down, raising the volume on our TVs, and turning lights on and
off. You can even get your favorite tunes playing while you’re cooking and your hands aren’t free to put
them on yourself. When we heard about these high-tech gadgets that were coming, many of us found it
hard to believe that we would simply speak out loud and something would change in our home right in
front of our eyes. Now, we are finding it even harder to believe that we can speak out loud and
something can change at home behind our backs – without us ever knowing it.

News is breaking day after day that domestic abusers have found a way to further intimidate, scare and
even “gaslight” their victims from remote locations, using only their laptops and the smart devices that
are already running at home. Thomas Reuter’s Foundation reported that, “Domestic abusers are
increasingly using internet-connected smart devices to spy on their partners and control them at
home…” and that there has been “an alarming trend in the misuse of everyday technology by current or
former partners to control, isolate, humiliate and dominate their victims.”

As a survivor of domestic abuse, a SODA™, I encountered this myself during my marriage. My husband
illegally audio and videotaped me in my own home without me knowing it. He listened to conversations
I had with friends, family, and my divorce attorney when preparing for our divorce trial. When we
discovered that this was going on and attempted to file a case in our court system, we were told that
The Federal Wiretapping Laws were not made for ordinary people like me, and that “this happens all the

I was told that these laws were put in place to protect more important people like celebrities and

To this day I have lasting effects from this emotional violation – and it’s hard to bounce back from that.
When it is happening, it is very difficult to prove, and even more so to stand up to those who keep
telling you that you are crazy and must be imagining things. As victims of domestic abuse or violence, we
are already facing incredibly difficult circumstances on a daily basis. We may be fighting for our lives,
trying to get through the day without being raged at and threatened again. To add to this already toxic
situation, a whole other level of horror with a chance for an abuser to scare, threaten, record, spy on us,
to turn lights on and off, turn volumes up and down, interfere with the well-being of his victim while
that person thinks they are home alone – it’s beyond diabolical.

So many of us shake our heads and think, “Well, now what do we do?” We are not going to remove
these devices from our homes. For the people who are legitimately enjoying them for the purposes for
which they were created, they are really fun to have around and we love them! We cannot go back and
stop abusers from the discovery that they have now made, which is how to hack these devices and use
them remotely from their laptops in order to abuse their victims. So, what do we do?

According to Hotspot Shield, the answer may be simpler than you would think: these devices
were designed to make your life simpler and more convenient; security is often an
afterthought. As vulnerabilities are detected (and there are many), new software will be
released to patch the issues. Make it a habit to check your apps and download all available

From someone who has been there I would suggest this: if you think it is happening then chances are it
is. So you can download updates and put a patch on the problems until you can figure out your next
steps, while your abuser figures out their next way to come at you. We all know that they just don’t
relent. Use the time to make your safety plan and start thinking about how you may want to get out of
there. How bad has it gotten when devices designed to make us happy are now being used to terrorize

Get help, leave safely, and know that you are not alone.