ABUSIVE partners are turning to technology to find sick new ways of stalking their victims, the Echo can reveal.
An increasing number of Sunderland women are seeking refuge after campaigns of terror, including being stalked using GPS tracking devices and apps on mobile phones, hacking into computers and online harassment.
Experts say advances in new technology have given abusers a tighter rein on their victims by handing them extra tools to trace their every move.
Clare Phillipson, of Wearside Women in Need, said: “Abusive men will always find new ways to either exercise control over their partners or abuse them.
“We currently have concerns with new technology that enables men to stalk their partners using mobile phones.
“They are able to activate the sat nav function without anyone even knowing, and this means they can see exactly where they are all the time.
“There have been cases of men sitting there and watching people walking round the streets then use Google maps to see exactly what house they’ve gone into and get a complete picture.”
The organisation has also seen a worrying rise in the number of women being beaten for posting innocent status updates on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and computer hacking to keep tabs on their partners.
In extreme cases, women’s movements inside their home have been monitored by CCTV cameras put up by possessive partners wanting to spy on their spouse.
“Websites like Facebook also give men a tool to constantly monitor their partners,” said Clare.
“We have seen a lot of times when women have left innocuous messages like you and I would say, like ‘had a nice night out with my friend last night’, and their partner has got violent.
“In some cases with more affluent men, CCTV cameras have been put up inside and around a house that can be accessed any time through mobile phones or computers.
“New technologies are making it much easier.
“Before, you couldn’t be in touch with your partner 24/7, but now we’re getting women beaten up because she’s at work and had to switch her phone off.”
There has also been several reported cases of wife-beaters turning to social networking sites to continue their harassment campaign after their partner has left them.
“I would say to people that if they are separating they should look very carefully at their Facebook privacy settings and their friends,” Clare added.
“There are many cases of abusive partners using them to build up a whole picture of their lives.”
Victims of domestic violence can get help round the clock by phoning 0800 066 5555.