Tech vs Abuse: A new collaboration to explore how women in UK use tech to deal with abusive relationships

Written by Evangelia Kampouri

For the past three years, Chayn has been empowering women against violence and oppression by leveraging technology to build platforms, tools, and how-to guides globally. We understand that as technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, it is ever important to see how victims and survivors of domestic abuse are using it.

Today, we are doing just that as we collaborate with Comic Relief, Snook, and SafeLives in an exciting new project to explore how women survivors use technology in order to deal with abuse. Our objective is to gain insight into women’s experiences with using technology so as to understand any existing gaps, and how it could support and add value to these.

More specifically, we are interested in discovering how and for what reason they use tech, ranging from mobile phones, laptops and ipads, to websites, social media and apps, as well as any concerns they may have with regards to safety, both online and offline. We know from experience that women can be using these platforms for a variety of reasons such as in order to get information and advice, to share their experience and learn from others, to connect with family and friends, to share humour, needing a distraction from their difficult situation. They can also resort to them so as to seek emergency help, or to store emergency information including passport numbers and photos of bills. We are aware of the fact that for some women, their abusers may be monitoring their devices and online activity, and would like to know how they stay safe while using the platforms they are part of. More importantly, we want to give women a voice to let us know what they wish technology could do for others in situations similar to theirs. Our findings could help further develop the existing technology so as to support victims and survivors of domestic abuse, along with the people and services who support them as well.

In order to accomplish this, we have crowdsourced questions from our volunteers, some of whom are survivors of domestic abuse, and from our partners, narrowed them down to create an online survey which we are going to circulate by sharing on our social media in addition to contacting influential web-pages, organisations, and individuals including popular bloggers and Youtubers, and asking them to share it with their audiences.

We are also asking more in-depth questions about the where’s, the when’s, and the how’s surrounding women’s experiences of using tech in domestic abuse situations through one-to-one interviews and social media group discussions. We would like to hear from a diverse group of people and we encourage anyone who identifies as a woman and who is over 18 years of age to share their thoughts by filling out our survey. If you would rather be interviewed, you can email research@chayn.co.

We feel extremely excited to be working on this project with such powerful forces like Comic Relief, SafeLives and Snook to take a human-centred design and digital approach to this research. This new venture will not only achieve a better understanding of the role tech plays in women’s lives, but may also help us envision how to improve it in order to bring about a positive change to their circumstances.

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