12:50PM, Friday 14 March 2014
Violent and controlling partners are exploiting advances in social media technology to track and abuse victims.
Berkshire East and South Bucks Women's Aid (BESBWA) says mobile phone technology can pave the way for constant harassment, and checking up or partners, which can lead to intimidation, mental manipulation and that social media can allow for stalking and tracking - even long after a relationship has ended.
Jayne Donnelly works for the charity which helps victims - both male and female - of domestic abuse and their families in the Royal Borough.
She said one of the biggest problems can be the GPS tracking software installed on most modern phones, with offenders desperate to maintain 'control' of partners.
"It's really challenging for us now," she said.
"You can turn off the GPS but people are unaware of these settings and how these phones work."
She also stressed that stalking through social media is a genuine modern-day issue.
"People reckon when they've left a relationship they are safe, but that's when most abuse murders occur."
The organisation also works to stop problems through education.
Its head of sustainability and development, Tessa Osman, said it is now working in schools now to get the message in early about safe relationships.
This, she says, is crucial in nipping abuse in the bud, instead of only acting when it becomes a reality.
BESBWA is pushing for awareness over emotional abuse, saying victims are not given the same level of attention as those who suffer violent abuse.
Jayne Donnelly said: "What we find is that emotional [abuse] can be high risk as well. It's often threats and coercion; 'If you tell anybody about this I will kill you'.
"The risk factor is that one day they will follow through with those threats."
On Saturday, March 8, a law was rolled out nationally which gives women the right to ask for background checks on partners they suspect have an abusive history.
Jayne welcomed the action but added she is sceptical about how it will work in practice, saying that women may feel scared to act.."