Thermostats- Locks and Lights: Digital Tools of Domestic Abuse – By Nellie Bowles – NYT

By Nellie Bowles
June 23, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — The people who called into the help hotlines and domestic violence shelters said they felt as if they were going crazy.

One woman had turned on her air-conditioner, but said it then switched off without her touching it. Another said the code numbers of the digital lock at her front door changed every day and she could not figure out why. Still another told an abuse help line that she kept hearing the doorbell ring, but no one was there.

Their stories are part of a new pattern of behavior in domestic abuse cases tied to the rise of smart home technology. Internet-connected locks, speakers, thermostats, lights and cameras that have been marketed as the newest conveniences are now also being used as a means for harassment, monitoring, revenge and control.

In more than 30 interviews with The New York Times, domestic abuse victims, their lawyers, shelter workers and emergency responders described how the technology was becoming an alarming new tool. Abusers — using apps on their smartphones, which are connected to the internet-enabled devices — would remotely control everyday objects in the home, sometimes to watch and listen, other times to scare or show power. Even after a partner had left the home, the devices often stayed and continued to be used to intimidate and confuse.

via Thermostats, Locks and Lights: Digital Tools of Domestic Abuse – The New York Times

Great article. Terrible news. Someone will write a good thriller with this techonology and an abuser that makes a fine movie. I only hope that the movie will have a happy ending. Woman and FBI overcome haunted house.

Here is one of many comments I liked. This one took my breath away:

hopefully on a sailboat

An old fashioned word “Gaslighting” now defines abuse with advanced technology.

As a victim of horrific abuse I was completely unaware of how my reputation and life were being eroded by my late spouse.

My second marriage was to a West Point army officer who was in cybersecurity. I’m an MD so when he retired after 20 yrs (at age 42) I told him he didn’t need to work and he used his GI loan to get his Masters and PhD in IT. He installed a computer in my office along with a home security system that controlled the environment, along with every door and window. Even the coffee maker was digital to start brewing at a specific time.

Then my house keys no longer worked…now we just punched in a number. My Prius had a smart key system.

It started like a drip, drip…I couldn’t start the car…so I took the bus. I had been very independent before meeting him and I had always trusted everyone completely. So why should I suspect subterfuge?

Then it became a waterfall. My friends were upset with me and no longer accepted invites to play tennis or golf. I would come home at 0300 and couldn’t get in the house. The physical abuse started but I lied about injuries–why? Because I thought that there was something wrong with ME!

He committed suicide with a gun; the police arrested ME. Why? He had created Facebook pages in my name and they were racist, bigoted, with entries on killing my husband! He also emptied my savings.

After a terrible yr I left Hawaii. Will never recover.

About David Lindsay Jr

David Lindsay is the author of "The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth- Century Vietnam," that covers a bloody civil war from 1770 to 1802. Find more about it at, also known as, David Lindsay is currently writing about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction., as well as singing and performing a "folk concert" on Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction. He can be reached at daljr37(at)
Quote | This entry was posted in Bullies and Scoundrels, Information Technology, Uncategorized, Women's Issues and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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