The Current

How domestic abusers are leveraging technology to harass and control

The rise of technology has created new avenues for domestic abusers to target victims. An Edmonton woman shares her story of how her ex-boyfriend sent men to her house for sexual encounters by setting up a fake online dating account.

Ex-boyfriend set up dating profile and sent men to house for sex, says Edmonton woman

Spyware and modern technology are being used to target victims of domestic abuse. (CBC)

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An Edmonton mother of two says she still looks over her shoulder, worried she'll see her ex-boyfriend after he set up a series of fake dating profiles last year to send men to her apartment for sexual encounters.

It's just one example of how modern technology has been used by perpetrators of domestic abuse to coerce, intimidate and spy on their partners.

The Edmonton woman — who The Current is not naming for her safety — left her ex-boyfriend a year ago and moved out while he was out of town. He immediately began threatening to post intimate photos of her online unless she came back to him.

Then, a few days later, strangers started knocking at her door — 30 men in total, looking for sex. The woman said she believes her ex-boyfriend set up a series of fake dating profiles under her name on the Plenty of Fish dating site.

"I kept calling the police but it wasn't a high priority thing at that point, so I just hid in my apartment," she told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti, adding she was frightened because her two kids were at home.

Her former partner was arrested by the Edmonton police cyber crimes unit investigators in early June of last year. He was charged with breach of an emergency protection order, mischief and criminal harassment. In June 2018, he submitted a guilty plea on criminal harassment — two other charges were withdrawn on Sept. 11 — and a trial for a charge of breach condition of recognizance is scheduled for Oct. 18.

He was sentenced to 90 days intermittent imprisonment and two years of probation to follow his release as well as a 10-year firearm ban.

To discuss how spyware and modern technology are being used to target victims of domestic abuse and what to do about it, The Current spoke to:

  • Chantel Nelson, Housing Partnership Coordinator at Toronto's Interval House working with women to protect themselves against domestic abusers who are using spyware tools.
  • Periwinkle Doerfler, co-author of the study, The Spyware Used in Intimate Partner Violence.
  • Edmonton mother of two

Listen to the full discussion near the top of this page.

With files from CBC News. Produced by Zena Olijnyk and Allie Jaynes.