Devised to make life easier, technological inventions have also provided new avenues for domestic violence. Abusers use technology to scare, harass, or intimidate their victims even after they have left the house. Technology, which includes phones, computers, tablets, and social networking sites, is also used for stalking by a controlling partner. An example is this mom who suffered constant stalking, taunting, and harassment from an ex-husband who had stolen her laptop. Or this husband who lodged a GPS tracker in his daughter’s stuffed doll to track down his wife without her knowledge.
Regarding the victim’s well-being, there are instances in which technology is used to develop a sense of omnipresence for the perpetrator, and to punish, isolate, and humiliate the victim. Perpetrators even go as far as threatening to post sexualized content online with the aim of humiliating the victim.
However, technology is not all that bad when it comes to domestic violence. From panic alarms to mobile apps, technology has also been used to protect survivors of domestic violence and even provided information and support.
Keep reading to find out some of the digital tips for domestic violence survivors.
How Technology is Helping Victims of Domestic Violence
A study of 65 victims in Brisbane found out that 18 of the victims made recordings of their abuser’s behavior using smartphones and used them for various purposes. Some of the reasons included: convincing themselves that their exes were, indeed abusive, for use as evidence in court, and for the purposes of talking to their lawyers and the police.
Several apps exist to assist victims to record their abusers’ conduct and access relevant information, services, and emergency contacts using their smartphones, such as Smartsafe, Aurora, and iMatter.
Other apps include:
Established by the Vodafone Foundation in conjunction with Hestia, this app enables users to record happenings of abuse through text, audio, video, or photo without the recordings being stored on their devices. The content is sent to a secure, isolated box. It also features a brief questionnaire that helps users recognize different kinds of abuse and offers a UK-based directory of professional support services.
The BrightSky app offers its users advice on what to do when leaving an abusive partner, as well as provide information to family and friends to prepare them to step in and assist those affected.
Created by the Vodafone Foundation in Spain, in collaboration with the Fundación CERMI Mujeres, the PorMi app gives access to legal advice, telephone numbers, and data that may be useful in identifying situations of abuse. This app was created with the realization that disabled women are at high risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. It provides information such as rights that can benefit those affected, and testimonies from disabled women who have been involved in situations of violence.
This app can also be used by anyone who wants to report a case of abuse.
PorMi and BrightSky are just some of the initiatives developed by the Vodafone Foundation that have benefited nearly 1 million victims of domestic violence around the world.
In the USA, some victims were given a 3G Safety Watch which uses modern technologies to keep the wearer safe. It also pinpoints geographical location, alerts officials with a simple push of a button, and offers 24/7 monitoring.
From the above discussion, it is clear that technology can serve both as a sword and shield to those experiencing domestic violence. GPS trackers and CCTV cameras can alert the victim and the police if the abuser is approaching. Websites and apps can link survivors with support groups and service providers. And, victims can record happenings of domestic violence. We indeed need to probe further into the uses of technology to handle domestic violence cases, but the evidence shows technology has so much to offer to the victims. More research is however needed to explore the potency of technology in curbing domestic abuse, both in the long-term and in the short-term.
Thank you to TechWarn for reaching out with this great information and their willingness to share it with me and with survivors out there in the world. It’s people like you who make a difference.