Tech vs Abuse

The risks and opportunities of technology use in domestic abuse

Tech vs Abuse was a collaborative research project undertaken between May and November 2016 by SafeLives, Snook and Chayn and commissioned by Comic Relief.

The aim was to find out how technology could play a supportive role in the context of domestic abuse, exploring the potential opportunities, gaps and risks. It also explored how survivors and practitioners perceived technology, including access to equipment, devices, apps and websites and the ability to communicate digitally through text messages, emails and other media.

    Survivors of domestic abuse reported

  • 47%

    said their online activity was monitored by their partner

    And a quarter said they did not know

  • 47%

    said using technology to connect with support helped

    Almost half of the women surveyed reported that connecting with services and support groups was a positive experience they had when using technology, one which could help counteract feelings of isolation

Key findings

  • Both women and practitioners saw technology as a risk and felt they did not fully understand how to use technology effectively and safely.
  • Technology was a barrier for some and an enabler for others to getting the support, information and advice they wanted. Accessibility, background and circumstances were crucial to how women were able to use technology solutions.
  • 47% of women reported that connecting with services and support groups was a positive experience with technology and could help counteract feelings of isolation.
  • Almost 1 in 5 women had already used technology to capture evidence about their abuse, whether this was through using a phone as a recording device or through forwarding incriminating emails.
  • Practitioners were confident in using technology in their work but appeared less confident in how to support survivors. They wanted to further understand which tools women were using to access support and the safeguarding implications.

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