Written by: Luana Yoshikawa-Scanlan, PRIME Consultants
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (2017, May) reports that 40% of domestic violence incidents are not reported to police. This trend is found throughout the world, especially in countries where domestic violence is not a routinely enforced crime or where associated stigma is a significant barrier to reporting. To gauge the impact of COVID-19 on domestic violence in 11 countries, researchers used a novel measure of DV incidents – a Google search intensity index of DV-related topics. “DV search intensity after lockdown increased by 31%” peaking on average seven weeks after a lockdown began (Berniell & Facchini, 2020). Due in large part to forced isolation tactics used to minimize the spread of COVID-19, domestic violence increased by 8.1% in the U.S. in 2020.
Without access to normal support services and routines, including the ability to be away from the perpetrator during an entire work day, victims of domestic violence experienced more trauma and more people became victims during 2020. Researchers found an increase in the use of digital platforms by people seeking information, help, connection to address domestic violence. An 8-country analysis of social media data in Asia identified a 70% increase in online searches related to violence from October 2019 through September 2020. Additionally, online harassment, bullying and victim-blaming increased.
The data illustrates the increasing importance of digital media in helping victims address violence, and the need for digital literacy skills to ensure safe access to the assistance they seek.
Digital literacy is the ability to find, collect, organize and comprehend information accessed through online platforms.
It is also the ability to then synthesize this information into a meaningful understanding, to develop a conclusion and make decisions based on this understanding.
Digital literacy includes ‘cyber safety’ skills to protect the user from unwanted, unhealthy, unsafe digital content. For example, knowing how to determine the authenticity of a website, and how to fact-check information. Also, the ability to protect passwords, browser histories, and eliminate invasive tracking mechanisms.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence provides safety resources on their website: https://www.techsafety.org/resources-survivor/facebook
The website offers a comprehensive array of information regarding digital safety. To minimize risk, victims of domestic violence should strengthen privacy settings on email, social media accounts, and any online application that may store passwords to personal financial and health data. This Security Planning Tool can get the user started on hacker prevention tactics, and prevent abusers from accessing private information. After responding to three simple questions the Tool will provide a listing of free resources to address each of the concerns the user responds to.
The following free resource, https://datadetoxkit.org/en/home, provides ‘6 Tips to Steer Clear of Misinformation Online’, a ‘Data Detox for Youth’ and other ways to improve online privacy. As more people jump onto the internet for support and connection to others, safely accessing and monitoring those resources becomes more significant. Don’t be the one to shout, “I’ve been hacked!”
Written by staff of the Alliance