Technology can be a risk for victims of family violence


Technology can be a risk for victims of family violence

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Technology is a form of connection which brings many positive benefits, but that connection can carry unknown risks to victims of family violence. A Federation University family violence researcher and two Ballarat experts will highlight how technology can connect perpetrators of family violence to victims during a free public presentation in Ballarat on White Ribbon Day. Associate Professor Elisa Zentveld, Lateral Plains director George Fong and Ballarat iPhones business owner David Mulraney hope to raise awareness of how perpetrators of family violence can use technology to track, stalk, and obtain personal details, and also empower victims with knowledge of protective actions they can take. “Knowledge is power and if you understand technology victims can actually take some of that control back from the perpetrator,” Dr Zentveld said. “This session is about understanding where the risks lie and how to take control rather than be controlled. “We thought that would be an important contribution to the community on White Ribbon Day by putting forward some information people could benefit from and have the opportunity to ask questions.” READ MORE: “I will never be free”: family violence victims suffer abuse after separation Ballarat iPhones business owner David Mulraney said customers often came into his shop asking for text messages to be converted to pdfs. He also said it was easy for a perpetrator of family violence to access data on the location of victims through their phone. Mr Fong said perpetrators of family violence could easily track internet history if proper protections were not put in place. “In the talk we will be emphasising it is not hard to take sensible steps to reduce your digital footprint,” he said. Dr Zentveld said awareness of the possible use of technology was important to minimise the risks to victims. “For example, if you are separated and you are trying to protect your identity but there is still some shared visitation rights with a child, it is important to be aware that a doll or a backpack could be used as a place to store a GPS tracking device so the perpetrator can then find out where the mother is,” she said. “Victims can take a couple of key steps to protect themselves to try to safeguard and gain a little bit of control back.” READ MORE: Specialist family violence training held for police, court and support agencies Options for technological protection that will be discussed at the public presentation include encryption of data, two factor authentication, erasing your digital trail and covering the camera on your phone or computer. Mr Fong said it was important organisations that support victims of family violence had an understanding of technological risks and could help empower victims to take protective actions. Dr Zentveld said it was also important the education system was informed in this area as school software tools could create risks for victims. “Schools these days are increasingly using software tools which is a great thing so parents can actually see what their children are doing and be a part of it, but again there is a connection point,” she said. “Parents can see what the classroom activities are, where those locations are, if there is a field trip where that might be. “You can also sometimes see personal details such as the other person’s contact details when you are separated. Those can again be a point of connection and it can be quite complex to block someone off that.” READ MORE: Recruiting underway for new integrated family violence service Orange Door Data shows on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. One in four women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner since the age of 15. Almost 40 per cent of women continue to experience violence from their partner while separated, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. READ MORE: Health care staff trained to identify and respond to family violence White Ribbon Day will be recognised Australia-wide on November 22 to raise awareness of family violence. Visit the events page on whiteribbon.org.au for details on the free public presentation in Ballarat. Dr Zentveld said the presentation would be relevant for victims of family violence, departments or organisations that support victims of family violence and primary and secondary educators. It will be held on Friday November 22 from 11am to 12.30pm in the Ballarat Technology Park at 106 Lydiard Street South, Ballarat Central. Call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 for support.

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