Digital abuse is when someone monitors, stalks, harasses, threatens, controls or impersonates another person using technology.
This could involve stalking through social media, harassment by text message or humiliation by posting pictures or videos, for example.
Digital abuse can happen to anyone but it most often happens alongside other types of domestic abuse.
Examples of digital abuse:
using your social media accounts without your permission
posting information about you online or by text/messenger
creating a profile page without your permission
sending you threatening messages
sending threatening messages to other people whilst pretending to be you
posting photos of you without your consent (also known as revenge porn)
using spyware on your devices to track you
taking away your control of smart home devices such as cameras, lights, thermostats
controlling your bank accounts
How to protect yourself from digital abuse
It’s not your fault if you’re being abused, you have the right to privacy online and offline.
There are steps you can take to keep yourself safe from digital abuse, but you should always do what’s safe for you.
Use strong passwords
Protect all your online accounts with a strong password. If the person abusing you knows any of your passwords, change them straight away. Choose a password that contains numbers and special characters. Find out more about strong passwords.
Check social media account settings
Check the privacy settings on all your social media accounts.
The National Cyber Security Centre has advice on how to check your settings on all the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Tiktok).
Protect your devices
Protect your phone, tablet and computers by using a strong password or PIN, or use a combination of both.
Make sure you have antivirus and a firewall installed on your devices and that they’re up-to-date. This detects spyware that may have been installed on your phone and any files that are unsafe to open. Find out more from Get Safe Online.
Turn off location services
You can easily be tracked if your location is activated on your phone or other devices. Some apps turn location services on automatically, but you can turn it off by going into your settings:
Change the password that you were given to begin with to a stronger password.
Avoid using social media or online banking when using public Wi-Fi as it’s often insecure and your details could be stolen. To stay safe while using public Wi-Fi connect to a virtual private network (VPN).
If you’re worried about being locked out of your bank accounts or someone limiting access to your money, speak to someone at your bank. Some banks can flag an account that might be at risk.
If you, or someone you know, is being abused there are different ways you can report it to the police.
Is it an emergency?
Is someone in immediate danger? Do you need support right away? If so, please call 999 now.
If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use our textphone service 18000 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.
If it isn't an emergency, you can report digital domestic abuse: