News headlines feature online predators and sextortion. The role of technology in sexual assault is much broader than that. Technology is now woven into the dynamics of sexual assault, helping to maintain rape culture, and extending the reach of offenders. Online life can strip privacy from victims, and online harassment creates a barrier to speaking out. Technology can also give survivors, and those who work with them, pathways to healing, justice, and social change.
We will begin with how technology is misused by offenders, and discuss the idea that technology is not inherently problematic but rather increases the impact of age-old offender behaviors by very briefly outlining ways that technology is misused to harass, isolate and monitor within the IPV context. We will shift into a conversation about SA work in non-IPV situations, and apply the frame of technology misuse to specific examples of non-IPV sexual assault scenarios including workplaces, health care, housing and institutions.
The last part of the session will describe approaches to short-term and crisis response advocacy with tools to assess and document the misuse of technology. Part II, as a separate session, will dive deeper into technology use in long-term advocacy, technology tools to increase survivor privacy and empowerment, and advocates’ use of technology.
Technology and Sexual Assault
The role of technology in sexual assault outside of Intimate Partner Violence is distinct from other kinds of violence experienced by survivors of domestic violence. This handout describes some of the differences in how technology may be misused, giving examples in a variety of settings. It also discusses how technology is related to the root causes of sexual assault.
Assessing for Technology Misuse and Privacy Concerns in Sexual Assault
The safety and privacy of survivors is often compromised by offenders who misuse technology, as well as ways that the survivor’s personal information is shared. This handout will help you and the survivor think through how to narrow down technology misuse by the offender and identify the survivor’s potential privacy concerns.
Images, Consent, and Abuse
Billions of images are captured, uploaded online, and distributed electronically every day. As several high-profile cases have documented in recent years, some of these images raise serious safety, privacy, and legal issues around the intersection of abuse and assault, consent, and privacy. This handout looks at strategies that survivors can use to deal with images that have been uploaded as part of abuse.
Documentation Tips for Survivors of Technology Abuse & Stalking
Misuse of technology could include monitoring technology use, including computers or mobile devices, sending harassing messages, or posting negative comments or images of the survivor online. This handout helps survivors and service providers identify the kinds of information to document and how to do that.
Online Privacy & Safety Tips
Browsing the web safely and privately is a concern for many people. A good general rule is that nothing online is private. Another general rule is that you can’t be completely anonymous online. However, you can take steps to prevent sensitive and personal information from making its round on the Web.
Additionally, these two guides were developed by Safety Net in partnership with two prominent social media companies to increase survivor privacy and safety.
Agency's Use of Technology Best Practices & Policies Toolkit
This toolkit includes questions to consider when using technology to provide services, as well as best practices for communicating with survivors via phone, email, text and on mobile devices. In addition, sexual assault and domestic violence programs can find information about confidentiality, databases and many other technology issues related to service delivery.
For work with survivors experiencing sexual assault within the context of domestic, or intimate partner violence, we encourage advocates and survivors to consult the wealth of resources on TechSafety.org.
Tech Safety App
Also, download our app from iTunes, Google Plat or at TechSafetyApp.org for basic information about technology misuse, safety and privacy.