Let me preface this post by saying: I love technology. I think it provides us with enormous opportunities and allows us to foster otherwise impossible connections. This is not a post condemning technology or reminiscing about “the good old days”.
I work for Apple in one of our retail stores. Many times this month I’ve been approached with people who are in situations in which their technology was used as a weapon against them.
RAINN reminds us that 3 in 4 victims of sexual violence know their victim. It’s highly likely that perpetrators have a way of getting in contact with a victim–especially with social media. An NPR reporter said that in his visit to a domestic violence shelter a counselor warned a new resident about having wifi or GPS on.
I also keep seeing this video pop up on my Facebook feed. It may be fake. Regardless, this is an extremely scary situation and one I’ve seen firsthand for a few victims.
The one that hits home for me is “I bought you a phone not to text other dudes, but to text me…and the family here and then.” It literally makes me shudder every time.
People bring me these broken phones with stories of how their significant other became angry with them and smashed their phone. Hammers. Cars. Rocks. Thrown or smashed. It’s in pieces and the victim is just so shameful and helpless.
As a retail employee, my heart just breaks at the thought of someone wanting to cause so much malice to someone else. As a trained AVFTI board member, flags go off in my head at the control someone has over another person when they remove their technological freedom.
No one should be able to negotiate power over a person simply because they purchased a phone for them. No one should be able to use violence to destroy a means of contact with the outside world for any reason. If someone has done this to you, this is unacceptable, abusive behavior.
TechSafety.Org reports that 89% of abusers use intimidation tactics via email, text message, or cell phones. 68% will post pictures of the victim without their consent. 72% track via GPS signal on a victim’s cell phone.
This technological world of intimidation can make it super hard for a victim to feel empowered about leaving. Why do they stay? What choice do they have?
Cell phones are allowing for a greater case of evidence against rape and sex abuse and are being used in evidence against abusers. Video can make for a stronger case, but abusers are not always charged. I wrote about an Ohio University student who was sexually assaulted and it was broadcast to video without any charges pressed.
Make sure you’re standing up for abusive or controlling behavior you see online. It’s not cool for the sake of a joke. It can mean the difference of someone in a dangerous situation getting the help they need. As always, show validation and support for the brave people who’ve told their story here.
Technology is a great thing. Sexual assault victims have reported what’s happened to them, told a story, or helped another survivor because of it. Our volunteers are able to be across the country thanks to this website and social media. It’s not a bad thing. In the wrong hands, it’s devastating. Let’s make sure we’re empowering those who need its connection most.