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:
Technology Safety Project Resources – A website by the Britsh Columbia Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH)
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.
Toolkits and Guides
Mobile Spyware BCSTH, 2019
A guide for Canadian women experiencing technology-facilitated violence: Strategies for Enhancing Safety – A guide by the British Columbia Society of Transition Houses adapted for women and anti-violence support workers.
Technology Safety and Privacy Toolkit – A toolkit by the British Columbia Society of Transition Houses for Canadian women experiencing technology-facilitated violence to learn how they can increase their technology safety and privacy.
Tech Abuse: Gender and Internet of Things Resource List University College London, July 2018
Technology & Confidentiality Toolkit – Created by the NNEDV, this toolkit is for non-profit, women-serving organizations to better understand confidentiality and privacy
The Police Data Initiative, Open Data and Victim Privacy – A set of resources by the NNEDDV to support law enforcement, advocates and communities in efforts to ensure victim privacy and safety while increasing transparency through Open Data and the Police Data Initiatives.
Are you? Online & Okay… Women’s Support Network of York Region and Women’s Xchange, Women’s College Hospital, 2015
Reports & Studies
Database Considerations for Canadian Anti-Violence Programs British Columbia Society of Transition Houses, April 2019
Using Technology to Better Support Survivors: Literature Review Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, April 2018
Literature Review: Using Technology to Better Support Survivors (Innovation in Frontline Settings) Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, May 2017