Why understanding technology is vital in tackling domestic abuse
Posted on July 18, 2018
4 min read
Technology has the potential to be a two-edged sword for those experiencing domestic violence. Working at the Women’s Services Network (known as WESNET) I’ve seen first-hand how perpetrators can misuse technology to abuse their victims, most often women. This includes threats through email and messages, location stalking, and shaming on social media. Let’s be clear – this behaviour is never OK.
Many women are told to get off technology in order to avoid the abuse. In today’s world, this is not a practical solution and it also places all the responsibility for avoiding abuse on the victim.
What I’ve also seen are the ways women have positively used technology to protect themselves – and its role in enabling people to stay connected when most needed.
At WESNET we are passionate about tech safety education and empowering women to take back control of their tech. We’ve created this short series of videos to answer some of the most common questions we receive on tech safety from the women we work with. There’s much more information on our website, including tools and guides that aim to put survivors back in control.
What is technology facilitated abuse?
Everyone has the right to use technology without being harassed or abused. Our Technology Safety Plan is a good guide to start with if someone feels their partner might be misusing technology to abuse them.
How does my partner know where I am?
We often hear from women that their partner keeps turning up or finding them. Understanding the patterns behind why a partner might know someone’s location, as well as the technology they might be using, empowers women to limit another person’s access to their location. We have more in-depth information on our website particularly in relation to smartphones and location tracking.
How does my partner know what I’m doing?
Technology makes it easier to connect with people and the world around us, as well as access information. But sometimes information can be a little too connected and there is information that we don’t want people, or a particular person, to know.
How can I stop unwanted contact?
One of the most common forms of tech-facilitated abuse is unwanted contact, often abusive, through emails, messages or phone calls. There’s a number of ways to help stop this depending on the technology being misused.
How can I stop harmful things about me from being posted online?
If someone posts information or images of their partner online that are hurtful, harmful or embarrassing, there are some simple ways for you to take control.
How can I learn more?
These videos aim to provide top-level information on technology-facilitated domestic abuse. There is a range of information available online, including on our Technology Safety Australia website in the Women’s Technology Safety & Privacy Toolkit. Another site for more general information about online safety for women can be found on the Office of the eSafety Commissioner’s eSafetyWomen website.
Abuse, stalking and threatening behaviour is never okay – whether it’s offline or online. Nobody, men or women, children or adults deserves to be abused through technology. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call Triple Zero for assistance, or for confidential information, counselling and support service, contact 1800RESPECT.
Established in 1992, the Women’s Services Network (WESNET) is a national women’s peak advocacy body which works on behalf of women and children who are experiencing or have experienced domestic or family violence. WESNET seeks to ensure that all women and children live free of domestic and family violence and its consequences.
Safe Connections Program
Telstra partnered with the Women’s Services Network (WESNET) to help women impacted by domestic violence stay safely connected. Through the Safe Connections Program Telstra provides smartphones, pre-paid credit and information on the safe use of technology to WESNET to distribute to their partner agencies across the country that work directly with clients impacted by domestic violence.
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