Women’s Refuge warns about cyber abuse with latest campaign–UPDATED

When we think about domestic abuse, examples that readily come to mind are likely the physical and verbal kind. Women’s Refuge is highlighting the fact that these aren’t the only concerns with its latest campaign which aims to fight against and raise awareness of technology’s role in abuse.

The campaign, with creative by Saatchi & Saatchi, coincides with the Women’s Refuge annual appeal which highlights the increasing role technology is playing in fuelling domestic violence, a release says.

“Domestic violence isn’t always about physical violence,” Women’s Refuge chief executive Ang Jury says. “Everyday technology, such as mobile devices and social media platforms are increasingly being used as tools to monitor, manipulate, shame and control women easily at a distance.”

Source: eveningreport.co.nz

Refuge advocates come across daily examples of how text messaging and other use of technology is being used in what is becoming known as ‘cyber abuse’, the release says. “Technology is available to track a woman’s movements and monitor her phone and computer use. Identity theft is another issue women face in violent relationships, especially as they attempt to leave.”

Women’s Refuge is supporting women who use their services to learn about how to deal with some of the risks technology can have on their safety, the release says.

Bold posters that display women holding cell phones with messages like “one of the most common tools for abuse is in your pocket,” or, “abuse – now available for download,” are being shown in bus shelters and magazine advertisements this month.

(UPDATE) A Women’s Refuge spokeswoman told StopPress the organisation focussed on cyber abuse because it had been seeing more of it over the past couple of years and wanted to raise awareness. 

She says there are lots of ways women can be threatened with technology. “The notion that you can be violent when you’re not actually even in the room is quite a new phenomenon. You can be violent from anywhere in the world 24/7 anonymously and it’s very hard to stop and it’s hard to track and technology adapts quicker than we can respond to it.”

“It’s hard to stay safe when being tracked by GPS, having someone steal your identity or putting terrible images of you on the internet and it’s difficult stuff for Police to respond to as well and that’s why we wanted to raise awareness of it, as it’s new territory.”

There are lots of ways women can protect themselves from this kind of threat, she says. “Our service is anonymous and it’s 24/7. [And] basically never giving out passwords for Trade Me or your bank and if you break up, change passwords. Make sure your phone hasn’t been hacked and be careful with social media, defriending people you think might be abusive. There are various tips online on how to keep safe. We work with women who are victims of violence to keep safe too with this regard.”

She says posters, radio ads, magazine ads and TVCs are all part of the campaign, and there will be more released in the coming weeks.

Jury says women should not be dissuaded from asking for help. “There are ways to mask your online activity and you can also use a library PC or a friend’s cellphone or iPad to seek information about personal safety or call our 0800 REFUGE line 24/7.”

StopPress has contacted Saatchi & Saatchi about the campaign and will update the story as more information becomes available.

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