4 Ways Technology Can Help Domestic Abuse Survivors

06-30-2017 9:04 AM

Editor’s Note: Please share this important information and resources.

Using technology — like cell phones, computers the internet and social media — is part of our daily lives.

At the 2017 Conference on Crimes Against Women, where The Mary Kay Foundation℠ was the presenting sponsor, I was reminded to keep privacy and safety top-of-mind while using technology.

This is especially imperative for victims of domestic abuse as technology can be an empowering tool and also a potential source of risk.

Abusers may misuse technology to further control, monitor and harm their victims by:

* Tracking someone’s location
* Monitoring computer or phone use
* Harassing victims through the “anonymity” of the technology
* Impersonating victims through technology, such as creating false social media accounts

But technology can also have a positive impact for domestic violence survivors and be strategically used by survivors to increase their privacy and safety.

Erica Olsen, Director of The Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), suggests these ways using technology wisely can assist victims:

  1. Apps, online resources and hotlines can help victims find help and information quickly. Victims can research safety planning information and protection orders or look for emergency shelter housing. Find more information from the NNEDV on Considerations for Survivors and in the Survivor Toolkit, including the Tech Safety app and safety planning.

  2. Victims can connect with advocates and other survivors. These connections can help victims get much-needed support, learn about community services, find housing and employment opportunities.

  3. Victims can stay connected with family, friends and supporters. The ability for these connections to decrease isolation cannot be overlooked — remaining connected to our family and friends is necessary to our well being.

  4. Online spaces and social media can be important factors in our lives. Through these channels, we make connections, apply for jobs or even do our jobs.

Fortunately, most social media sites and online accounts now offer many privacy and security settings that help survivors lock them down, preventing access and putting them in control over those spaces. Many also are constantly improving their reporting processes to respond to survivors when they are being harassed.

Find more resources from the NNEDV here.

Find additional resources to help women affected by domestic violence at The Mary Kay Foundation℠ website.

If you or anyone you know needs immediate help, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Diane Montgomery is a contributing editor for The Mary Kay Foundation℠. She has been writing for The Foundation for 13 years and loved every minute. She is passionate about supporting efforts to end cancers that affect women and domestic abuse. Contact her at: MsDianeM@aol.com.