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Refuge launches tech security website for home abuse victims

Home abuse charity Refuge has launched a brand new web site, RefugeTechSafety.org, providing devoted assets for victims and survivors of technologically enabled home abuse, together with step-by-step steerage for securing gadgets and on-line accounts, with help in a number of languages.

Developed alongside survivors of abuse and with monetary help from Barclays’ Covid-19 Group Support bundle, the positioning was arrange in recognition that ranges of tech-enabled abuse have skyrocketed prior to now few years, particularly through the Covid-19 pandemic; from April 2020 to Might 2021 Refuge says it noticed a 97% enhance within the variety of complicated tech abuse circumstances requiring specialise help in comparison with the primary quarter of 2020, whereas in 2021, this as jumped to a median of 118% extra complicated circumstances.

Such circumstances typically contain perpetrators utilizing many alternative on-line accounts and gadgets to abuse, management and monitor their companions. In some circumstances abusers use commonplace gadgets and accounts, however more and more, they’ve turned to extra refined, even malicious software program – this is called stalkerware, and its use has been rising steadily by way of lockdown. Tech-enabled abuse is regularly a precursor to, or occurs alongside emotional, monetary, bodily and sexual abuse.

Refuge mentioned it was properly conscious many ladies experiencing tech abuse typically really feel they haven’t any alternative however to close down their on-line presence and cease utilizing their machine, which might compound their isolation from associates, household and different help networks.

Ruth Davison, the charity’s CEO, mentioned: “Refuge is thrilled to be launching RefugeTechSafety.org, created along with survivors, to empower girls and youngsters to make use of expertise safely. Up to now yr, many people can have turned to expertise to keep up a correspondence with family members and to attach with the world.

“Nonetheless, at Refuge we’re conscious that perpetrators of home abuse typically use expertise as a instrument of abuse – this will drive survivors offline and additional isolate them from their help networks. Up to now yr, we’ve seen rising numbers of complicated tech abuse circumstances that require our specialist help.

“No survivor of abuse ought to really feel the necessity to cease utilizing on-line areas,” she mentioned. “That’s why we’re now sharing our assets and professional information with the general public, so girls can defend themselves from abuse and never be pressured offline attributable to home abuse. For any girl experiencing tech abuse, you aren’t alone, Refuge is right here for you.”

The web site hosts a brief, animated movie that illustrates widespread varieties and experiences of tech-enabled abuse, in addition to 17 step-by-step help guides protecting machine and account safety, created with survivors’ security in thoughts – these guides cowl Android and Apple gadgets, Gmail and Hotmail accounts, and social media platforms together with Fb, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and WhatsApp. These guides stroll customers by way of securing their settings, and supply cautions towards actions that might alert abusers. The positioning additionally hosts an interactive chatbot and video guides provided in English, Polish, Spanish and Urdu.

Abuse survivor Amy Aldworth was supported by Refuge’s current Tech Abuse Group when she was stalked and harassed on-line by a person she met on a courting app. She went on to assist develop the assets.

“On the time, the abuse felt insurmountable and my psychological well being and talent to work had been severely affected. My Refuge Tech Advocate supported me to safe the privateness and placement settings of my on-line accounts, serving to me really feel safer on-line,” she mentioned. “She additionally assisted me in gathering proof for the police and along with her help I used to be capable of safe a Stalking Safety Order towards my abuser.

“Typically girls in my scenario could not know the place to show to or what their choices are which is why I’m so happy to have been concerned within the creation of RefugeTechSafety.org,” mentioned Aldworth. “Together with different girls Refuge has supported, I gave my insights to make sure the web site works for girls experiencing tech abuse. It’s nice to see that the assets that helped me by way of such a tough time of my life can be out there to different girls in comparable conditions.”

Sasha Wiggins, Barclays group head of public coverage and company accountability, added: “While expertise is a good assist and supply of help for a lot of – particularly so over the course of the final yr – a few of this expertise is unfortunately being misused by abusers to facilitate hurt.

“Refuge performs an important position in elevating consciousness, offering help to, and empowering the survivors of this home abuse, and so we’re proud to be supporting the creation of their new Tech Security Web site, permitting Refuge to achieve much more girls throughout the UK.”

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