Raising tech abuse awareness with a digital break-up kit

Grace Macej 13 Jul 2022

Our kit aims to empower women to take control of their devices and enable them to enjoy their digital freedom.

Tech abuse involves much more than sharing passwords. It can be anything from unwanted messages, spyware or stalkerware being installed on devices, to controlling or harassing someone via home tech.

To combat the ever-growing issue of tech abuse, we’ve joined forces with Refuge to create a digital break-up kit which equips women with the knowledge to effectively and safely break up digitally. 

In today’s world where connection is often as digital as it is physical, our kit is designed to help raise awareness of the importance of a clean digital break-up to protect against the threat of tech abuse from ex-partners. It includes a step-by-step guide on how to identify potential tech-based vulnerabilities and guidance on how to re-establish privacy and security across devices and platforms to support women in digitally disentangling themselves from ex-partners. 

Further reading:
Here are the top 10 IoT devices reported by domestic abuse victims
7 tech things you need to do when leaving an abusive relationship

Based on a survey of 2,000 men and women in the UK who participated in the research, Avast and Refuge identified that sharing devices, passwords, online tools, bank accounts and even locations with partners often went unchecked both within a relationship and, more worryingly, once relationships had ended.

Furthermore, 47% of respondents said they know someone else's online password(s). Over half (55%) of those who knew another’s password said they know their current partners’ and a fifth (20%) know that of an ex-partner.

Of those who know their ex-partner/spouse's password, 35% admitted they still have access to their ex’s Facebook account and 33% admitted they can still access the work email account of an ex-partner.

Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) have been victim to someone accessing an account and changing their password(s) without their knowledge or consent.

Finally, one in 10 (9%), said they have access to an ex-partner’s location through apps such as Find My Friends, Google location sharing, or Snapchat.

Taking a deeper look at the kit

Avast and Refuge’s Digital Break-Up Kit is designed to help survivors protect themselves across the multitude of digital platforms available today, ranging from social, entertainment, travel, banking, and food delivery apps

Providing this guidance is critically important: 42% of women say they use the same password for more than one account, and 26% of women whose partner or ex-partner knows their password say they wouldn’t know how to secure their device if it had been compromised. 

A joint effort from Avast and Refuge

This interactive tool is designed to provide awareness of the various digital platforms a partner or ex-partner might have access to, whether it’s their social media accounts, online banking, or live location. The tool also provides women with the necessary knowledge to secure these digital platforms against potential tech abuse from a partner or ex-partner.

Avast CISO Jaya Baloo says, “Gone are the days of simply returning personal effects and one another’s door keys when a relationship ends. While we know that people do share passwords and devices with a partner, there can be a very dark side to this behavior – particularly when women are coerced into sharing their passwords.”

Refuge CEO Ruth Davison comments, “While the findings from this research are deeply concerning, we believe they only scratch the surface. We know many women might not know how to spot the signs of tech abuse, or recognize that they have been coerced into giving their password to an abusive partner or ex-partner, or what this person is doing with the information they have access to. Technology is increasingly an integrated part of our lives and perpetrators are finding new ways to control and abuse women.” 

It’s for each of these reasons that we have teamed up with Refuge to launch our Digital Break-Up Kit. By creating this tool, we aim to raise awareness of tech abuse and encourage women to be able to create clear boundaries for their tech security with their ex-partners. 

Want to know more? Explore Avast and Refuge’s complete Digital Break-Up Kit.

--> -->