As the use of technology grows, shelter staff are increasingly reporting concerns with the way perpetrators have misused technology. Technology enables abusers to harass, stalk, extort, bully, manipulate, emotionally and verbally abuse, and impersonate women, youth, and children through email, texting, apps, software, and social media.
Lack of technology can be a problem in itself. Women who cannot afford a cell phone or whose ex-partners did not allow them to have one, for example, can feel isolated and unsafe because they lack options to quickly access help if needed.
It is important to stress that technology itself is not the problem; it is the way it is misused to elicit power and control that is problematic. Technology can also be used by women, youth, and children as tools of empowerment.
Eliminating technology from people’s lives is not a useful or viable solution. Everyone has the right to use technology and online platforms safely.
The following resources offer practical ideas for dealing with technology-enabled abused:
Tech Without Violence – A website by the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW)
TechSafety.org – A website by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) in the USA
NeedHelpNow.ca – A website that helps teens stop the spread of sexual pictures or videos and provides support along the way
Apps & Software
Tech Safety App – contains information that can help someone identify technology-facilitated harassment, stalking, or abuse and includes tips on what can be done.
Technology & Confidentiality Toolkit – Created by the NNEDV, this toolkit is for non-profit, women-serving organizations to better understand confidentiality and privacy
Reports & Studies
Examining the Use of Web-Based Applications & Tools to Respond to Violence Against Women Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses, 2011