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Domestic violence has spiked globally during COVID-19. But not all abuse is physical.

Domestic abuse extends into digital and financial realms, and even if it doesn’t leave bruises, it can crush a survivor’s sense of independence and traumatise him or her permanently.

With COVID-19 forcing many survivors into isolation with their abusers, experts are seeing a striking increase in financial and digital abuse, from stimulus funds being co-opted by abusers to an increase in domestic online harassment.

“Online harassment is on the rise because people are spending a lot of time online, and unfortunately, abusers can get extremely creative,” said Erica Olsen, the Safety Net director for the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV).

Domestic online harassment can come in many forms, from impersonating a victim by email in order to sabotage her work, to controlling the influx of information about the pandemic to make her more fearful and reliant on the abuser.

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