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Nonprofit View: Technology poses risk for victims of intimate partner violence

Technology surrounds us. In fact, many born after 1990 do not recall a world without home computers, cell phones or GPS devices. Others have no memory of being miles away from home without posting a picture about their sightseeing adventure or what they ate for dinner. However, regardless of what year we were born, most of us rely on technology for daily tasks. For me, I can access my email, calendar and contact information of family members and friends who live miles away in just a quick tap of the screen.

While technology is a thing of innovation and aids in connecting communities to each other, it can also be very dangerous. Technology is often the first components case managers will safety plan around when victims of intimate partner violence come to Family and Children’s Services for support and safety.

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Who has access to your phone? Do they monitor your phone activity or check your emails and text messages? Do you feel forced or pressured to share your social media account access with your significant other? For some victims of intimate partner violence, they are all too aware of how they have been tracked by their significant other. There are specific phone apps designed to “find” your friends — with the original intent of connecting friends and family. However, it is also used as a way for abusers to stalk their victims. Other times, with collaboration of law enforcement and the State’s Attorney’s Office, a victim may learn that a tracking device had been placed on their car, which is how their partner always knew where they had been.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of these phone apps that exist and more are being created every day. The National Network to End Domestic Violence does a great job of updating an ever-growing list to make communities aware of this threat to safety. You can find this list at www.techsafety.org. You can also speak with the domestic violence case management team at Family and Children’s Services who are trained to talk with victims and their families about the risks of technology, and how to increase safety when using your social media and favorite mobile apps.

You can reach Family and Children’s Services 24 hours a day, seven days a week by visiting www.fcsmd.org or by contacting the Carroll County Domestic Violence Hotline at 443-865-8031.

Kelley Rainey is the northern director of case management services for Family and Children’s Services. Reach her at krainey@fcsmd.org.

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