Can Social Media Be A Support System for Victims Of Domestic Violence?

  • Social media can be very beneficial to victims of domestic violence especially where the threat of re-offence is apparent.

    Telling a victim of domestic violence to go offline in order to be safe keeps them away from people who love them and can help them, this is unacceptable.

    Alternatively, maintaining safety is important in order to help survivors take back the control that abusers have tried to steal from their lives.

    The following precautionary measures can help victims/survivors of domestic violence to better protect anonymity, location and identity:

    Avoid:

    • Setting up profiles that include the city where you live;
    • Exposing your friend list;
    • Blogging about what you are doing;
    • Leaving an away message on your email saying where you're going;
    • Posting pictures that can suggest what you are up to.

    It is essential to have:

    • An up-to-date security software installed on your PC, hand held device or mobile phone;
    • Strong passwords only you can access.

    Having a support network is also critical and great support can be found online after adhering to the measures stated above.

    There are various forums to access information, however, do so safely.

    Useful Social Media App:

    • The Aspire News app looks like any other iPhone or Android news aggregator, but it's actually a potentially lifesaving domestic violence alert system;
    • When you go to the "Help" section of the page it provides a list of local domestic violence resources;
    • If you press the "Go Button", it alerts the user's chosen contacts, local authorities and service providers about the violent or potentially violent situation;
    • The Help Section of the application also contains complete resources for victims of domestic violence, as well as a way to get help when it is needed;
    • This app does not serve as a replacement for emergency services, if you are at risk, dial your local emergency number.

    Organisations that fight against domestic violence are increasingly involved in the use of social media to protect their victims/survivors:

    • The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) joined the Facebook's Safety Advisory Board in 2010 and has embraced its partnership with Facebook to consistently support the needs of victims of domestic violence, dating abuse, cyber-stalking and teen dating violence;
    • Similarly, an organisation like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allows fans and followers to keep up with their most recent research, new articles and prevention resources on Facebook and Twitter;
    • CDC also makes room for interaction with experts in real time.

    It is pertinent for survivors to have the information that they need to navigate their lives safely and, in today's digital age, a significant part of our lives are online.

    Organisations that effectively fight against domestic violence on social media take the following measures when rendering help to victims/survivors:

    • The privacy and safety of survivors is of utmost importance to them;
    • They decide which topics are appropriate to address via the social network and which topics are not;
    • They determine what cannot be posted on your social network site, such as personally identifying information or malicious contents;
    • They have a policy on who to accept as a friend within their network;
    • They also think about the information that is shared through their social network page;
    • Details about the safety and legal risks associated with sharing personal information online are also relayed to the survivors.

    Picture Source: (http://www.women-of-worth.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/7CHI_Domesticviolence2.jpg)

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