Refuge Launches Tech Safety Site to Help Women Recognize Signs of Tech Abuse
The domestic violence charity Refuge has launched a new technical safety website educating women and girls experiencing technology abuse amid a colossal increase in reported cases.
Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices provide attackers with a way to monitor, contact, and track down vulnerable women and girls, which means even innocent devices, including gaming consoles and connected toys for children, can control and isolate victims.
The number of reported cases of complicated technology abuse (instances requiring specialized technical support) increased by an average of 97% between April 2020 and May 2021, Refuge found.
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Cases have risen 118% in the past five months compared to before March 2020, when the first pandemic lockdown restrictions were announced.
The Technical Security website was created following consultations with technology abuse survivors and provides visitors with resources to recognize abuse and guides on how to use technology safely.
Guides contain detailed information to help secure a visitor’s phone, online accounts, social media profiles, emails, and location data.
Steps that can cause an abuser to notice a change in devices or software, such as turning off location sharing, have been highlighted with warning labels.
Technology abuse is defined as when a person uses technology to harm or control you
Visitors can also communicate with an interactive chatbot with video guides to secure hardware and software in English, Urdu, Polish and Spanish.
Amy Aldworth, technology abuse survivor and contributor to the site’s creation, is delighted that the resources that helped her are now publicly available to women in similar situations.
“Refuge’s technical abuse team supported me when I was stalked and harassed online by a man I met through a dating app,” she said.
“At the time, the violence seemed insurmountable to me and my mental health and my ability to work were seriously affected. My Refuge Tech Advocate has helped me secure the privacy and location settings of my online accounts, which helps me feel more secure online. She also helped me gather evidence for the police, and with her support, I was able to get a protection order against my attacker.
Bringing the guides together on one website will help women who may not be sure who to turn to or what their options are, she added.
“With our ever-increasing reliance on technology for work, school and to connect with others, women victims of domestic violence are increasingly at risk that perpetrators will use their technology to harm them, monitor them and hunt them down, ”said Ruth Davison, Executive Director of Refuge. I.
“It can make it very difficult for a woman to leave an abusive partner, as she becomes more and more isolated and sometimes forced to stop using technology altogether.”
Refuge shares the knowledge and resources it has gathered over many years to support women and girls experiencing technological abuse, she added.
“We want anyone who experiences technology abuse to know that support is available. The refuge is there for you, you are not alone.
Safe haven signs to identify technology abuse
- Is someone harassing you online or watching everything you do?
- Is someone harassing you by constantly sending you messages that bother you?
- Is anyone posting about you online? Or threatening to share pictures?
- Do you feel obligated to share your messages or your phone?
- Does anyone control or limit the use of your phone? Did someone hack your phone?
- Does anyone have access to your online accounts and passwords?
- Is anyone trying to reach you through your children’s phone or games?
- Are you a victim of cyberstalking?