Confidentiality Conference Registration is Open!

Advocates are saying:

“Some survivors don’t reach out because they’re worried about mandated reporting requirements. This gets in the way of us being able to help.”

“What if no one on staff speaks the survivor’s language? How do we find a translator they feel safe with? And what agreements should be in place to protect victims’ privacy?”

“We get pressure from our community partners to share victim information. When we don’t, they get frustrated and that makes collaboration difficult.”

“We don’t have a policy for how to handle confidentiality obligations if there’s an emergency at our shelter.”

Is your agency facing similar difficulties?

Mark your calendar and join us September 9th & 10th in Atlanta, GA for the 2019 National Confidentiality Conference – Strictly Confidential: Protecting Survivor Privacy in Federally Funded Programs!

This training, provided by the National Network to End Domestic Violence and The Confidentiality Institute will help you, as victim service providers, navigate complex federal confidentiality obligations, through in-depth analysis, peer sharing, and scenario problem solving. Participants will explore the many layers of privacy, confidentiality obligations, and technology in a tangible way. Learn how to implement best practices related to privacy and confidentiality while providing survivor-centered services, and how to build strategic relationships with community partners, while respecting your information sharing limitations.

The conference will cover a variety of topics including:

  • Mandated reporting

  • Community collaborations

  • Upholding confidentiality in emergency situations

  • Navigating language access and confidentiality

  • Handling official third party demands for survivor information

  • Selecting and using databases

  • Agency use of technology

  • Implementing survivor-centered best practices

Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of these issues and will be given resources and tools to better serve survivors.

Can’t wait to see you there!

This conference is OVW approved.

Please contact us with any questions. 

 

Safety Net 2018: Looking Back and Moving Forward

The Safety Net Project spent 2018 continuing to provide training, technical assistance, and advocacy to the field around the intersection of technology and intimate partner violence. In the coming year, we look forward to implementing new trainings and toolkits and continuing to work with partners and funders to address all the ways technology intersects with safety and privacy for survivors. Here’s a quick look at some of our 2018 accomplishments and some of the good work we have ahead of us in 2019.

Technical Assistance

This year we answered over 1,400 requests for technical assistance, spending 775 hours on technical assistance consultations! The most common requests were related to relocation and privacy issues for survivors, responding to technology misuse, and agency use of tech.  In need of Technical Assistance? Fill out our Technical Assistance request form.

Trainings

In 2018, we spent almost 400 hours providing trainings to victim advocates, legal services organizations, law enforcement officers, technology companies, and other community stakeholders. We had the privilege of providing training to not only U.S. based agencies but also internationally. This included agencies in the UK, Singapore, Australia, and Austria, among others. Trainings we provided covered a wide range of issues at the intersection of technology, safety, and privacy. Safety Net is already scheduling trainings throughout 2019!

Legal Systems Toolkit

In September, we launched the much anticipated Legal Systems Toolkit: Understanding & Investigating Technology Misuse. This toolkit helps legal system stakeholders, including law enforcement, attorneys, court personnel, community corrections, and others identify what technology is relevant to a case and how to use technology evidence to hold offenders accountable.

Annual Tech Summit

This year, we hosted our Technology Summit 2018 in San Francisco with our highest attendance rate to date. We had over 320 participants and a great group of technology company representatives and amazing presenters. We also hosted a closed Women of Color in Technology Reception, a closed meeting for Coalition, Territory, and Tribal Coalitions, and an opening reception with demonstrations from technology companies and stations where participants could try products and learn more about technology and privacy. 

Looking Ahead…

Cyberviolence Court Training Initiative

In Spring 2019 Safety Net, in partnership with the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges, will launch the Cyberviolence Court Training Initiative Judges Workshop. This national training will use a new training curriculum to enhance the skills of judges presiding over cases where there is technology misuse.

Smart Victim Tech Secure Communication Platform

The Smart Victim Tech: Equipping and Empowering Victims through Safe Technology Project is an innovative, multi-pronged approach to advance the use of technology to assist victims of crime. In 2019, the project will be releasing a Digital Services Toolkit, and will fund access to the newly launched ResourceConnect secure communication platform for interested local victim service providers, and will launch a new evidence collection app for survivors.

Team Transitions

Lastly, there were some big team transitions in 2018. We said goodbye to Alex Palacios who continues to do victim services work back in his home state of Arizona. We welcomed back Deputy Director, Kaofeng Lee, who worked for two years with our sister Safety Net project in Australia and Rachel Gibson who worked with the National Center on Reaching Victims. We also welcomed Elaina Roberts, who was formerly with the Stalking Resource Center. Looking ahead, we will welcome our newest and smallest Safety Netter in January with the welcomed addition of our Director, Erica Olsen’s, baby!

As the year ends, we reflect on the gratefulness we have for our supporters, tech advocates, funders, and all who work to end violence. We are also grateful to the survivors and direct service advocates who provide us with feedback to guide our work and make us better. We are looking forward to expanding our work to help enhance safety protections for programs and survivors and what #TechSafety means for all.

New Resource: Tech Safety App

We’re thrilled to announce the release of our Tech Safety App! The Tech Safety App is an educational mobile app that helps users identify how abusers can harass them by misusing technology and learn what steps they can take to enhance their technology safety and privacy.

This app takes advantage of the NNEDV Safety Net project’s more than 15 years of working on the intersection of technology abuse and violence against women, and who have provided expert advice, trainings, and consultation on this issue to thousands of survivors of abuse, victim service providers, and technology companies. This app is another way to get information into the hands of survivors.

The Tech Safety App walks users through understanding how a particular technology could be misused, what they can do about it, and offers safety tips on how to increase their safety and privacy. The app also includes a wide range of resources, including those on this site, the WomensLaw.org legal hotline, and other hotlines.

The Tech Safety App will be launched at a reception on Monday, July 25, 2016 from 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm at the Hilton Financial District during NNEDV Safety Net’s 4th Annual Technology Summit. At this Summit, nearly 250 victim advocates, attorneys, law enforcement professionals, victim service providers from across the United States and around the world will attend to learn about how technology is misused to harass and how providers can address these crimes.

Download the app today, and let us know what you think!

Revenge Porn and the Distribution of Sexually Explicit Images: What’s consent have to do with it?

In February, a New York court dismissed a case against a man who posted nude images of his ex-girlfriend online by sharing them on his twitter account and emailing them to her employer and family.  While his actions were reprehensible he faces no punishment because, unfortunately, legal limitations in New York, and many other states, do not currently make what he did criminal. But that is changing.

When sexually explicit images are uploaded online and distributed without consent of the person in the image, it’s often done as a tactic of abuse meant to cause humiliation and harm to the person. Many of these images may have been taken or originally shared with someone else under the expectation of privacy and within a trusting relationship. Some images may have been captured without the victim’s knowledge. In either case, it is an unacceptable violation of trust and privacy. This abuse has been coined “revenge porn,” a term that has been getting a lot of media lately.

Whether the victim willingly took or originally shared the image is irrelevant. Sharing a picture with one person does not mean consent was given for mass, public distribution of the image, and it definitely is not a green light for the person who received the picture to do what they please with it. We make many decisions that can have severe consequences if someone we trusted abused that trust. I can give my neighbors a key to my house and still have a personal and legal expectation that they will not steal from me when I’m not home. I can give a store employee my credit card and expect that will only use the information to finalize the purchase that I have requested. If they do, I am legally protected.

We must stop blaming the victim and start holding abusers accountable in these cases. The person who shared these images with the intent to harm, injure, humiliate, and abuse. By focusing on the victim’s actions and questioning why the victim shared the picture in the first place, as Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at the University of Miami said, "…what we're really saying is if you're sexual with one person, society is entitled to treat you as sexual for all purposes…”

Fortunately, the perception of this behavior is changing, as is the legal landscape around it. Due to the strength and determination of many survivors, states have begun drafting and enacting legislation to address this issue.

Read our new handout on Images, Consent, & Abuse for more detailed information on this issue and tips for survivors. Additional resources can also be found at withoutmyconsent.org. This issue has gained momentum and attention recently as people speak up and speak out. Learn more at the above links and share to continue the conversation. 

Social Media and Stalking: Q&A with the Safety Net Team

The Safety Net team recently wrote an article on social media and stalking for the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. Check out the full Q&A here!

Here is a snippet of some of the questions and answers:

Q: What is social media?
A: Social media is user generated content that promotes engagement, sharing, and collaboration. It includes a wide range of websites and applications that can be accessible from computers, smart phones, and tablets. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are three of the most popular social media platforms, although there are many more. 

Q: How do abusers misuse social media?
A: Abusers misuse social media as a tool to harass, manipulate, and threaten. Abusers often send harassing messages or post offensive images – even explicit images of the victim that may or may not have been taken with consent (sometimes referred to as “revenge porn”). 

Q: How do survivors safely use social media? 
A: Social media usually involves sharing personal information. Users should look at privacy options and take note of what will always be public and what they have more control over. Some sites have rules against using fake names while others allow it. Many sites encourage users to share their location as well. Survivors should only share information that they are comfortable with. 

Q: What can a survivor do if an abuser is misusing online spaces? 
A: It depends on what the survivor wants to happen. One important step is documenting all contact and harassment. The survivor can take screenshots or photographs of the activity. A few platforms, like SnapChat, will tell the sender if the recipient takes a screenshot, so it might be safer to take a picture of the screen since notification may escalate abusive behavior. The survivor can also save all messages. It may be tempting to hit delete to make them disappear, but original messages will be important for evidence. 

Read the full article here.

 

Act. Speak. Make a Difference.

 

Last week, was a busy week for the Safety Net team. At the beginning of the week, Erica Olsen, Stephen Montagna and I were in Little Rock, AZ, co-hosting The Use of Technology in Intimate Partner Stalking Conference with the Stalking Resource Center. The three of us provided trainings on phones and its misuse, the internet and how privacy and safety can be compromised, and focused specifically in a 3-hour presentation on social media to about 50 victim service advocates, law enforcement, and prosecutors. Visit the links below for tips and handouts on these topics.

On Thursday & Friday of last week, Cindy Southworth and I attended Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board meeting. Each year, Facebook brings together their Safety Advisory Board to talk about upcoming products and how they can ensure that their services are safe for teens and users who might be stalked or harassed on Facebook. 

Kaofeng Lee and Cindy Southworth at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, CA.

Kaofeng Lee and Cindy Southworth at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, CA.

I’m always struck at how passionate Facebook staff is about connecting people. Facebook, at its core, is about connections. That’s why we urge victim advocates and service providers to NOT tell survivors to just get off Facebook. We know how important that community can be for many survivors. Doing this work, we are focused (and rightly so) on how social media is misused to stalk and harass. We are constantly having conversations about how survivors can find resources, justice, and peace of mind and spirit when they are subject to abuse and control by abusers and stalkers. 

Yet, let’s take a moment and focus on Facebook and social media as a medium of connection and communication. How can we use social media to shift how we, as a society, talk about issues of domestic violence, sexual violence, and other crimes of abuse, harassment, and stalking? How can we use these spaces to change the way we talk about these issues, the way we think about these issues, and ultimately change the way people understand and perceive gender roles, relationships, and violence? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

In less than a week, it’ll be October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What are you doing to raise awareness about domestic violence? Here at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, this year’s 31n31 campaign will be focused on actions: 31 actions you can take to make a difference. We’re also starting a book club on Goodreads to discuss issues of domestic violence in modern literature. Follow this blog and our Facebook page for other activities you can take part in.

Take action with us. Join our book club and talk to us (and each other) about this issue. Let us know what you think we can do to use social media to change the way we talk and understand domestic violence.

PS…To receive updates of new blog posts, click on techsafety.org RSS (at the left navigational toolbar on this page) and sign up.

 

Safety and Privacy on Facebook: A Guide for Survivors of Abuse

This week is the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s inaugural Technology Summit conference, where several staff from Facebook are joining to share their expertise and brainstorm how we can all better support survivors of abuse. In addition, we have teamed up with Facebook to produce an informative guide on privacy and safety for survivors. We are excited about this publication since we know how important it is to survivors to remain connected, both offline and online, to family and friends, while also maintaining their privacy and safety. 

Since joining Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board in 2010, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) has embraced its partnership with Facebook to consistently support the needs of victims of domestic violence, dating abuse, cyber-stalking and teen dating violence.

Privacy and safety go hand in hand for survivors. The most dangerous time for a victim of abuse is when they are preparing to leave or have left an abusive partner. It’s at this time that there is an increased likelihood of an escalation in violence and risk for lethality. It is critical that survivors have the information that they need to navigate their lives safely and, in today’s digital age, a significant part of our lives are online. 

We believe that survivors have the right to experience and live online (and offline) safely. We sometimes hear that survivors should just “get offline” if they are concerned about an abuser finding them or contacting them. This is not a solution. Survivors shouldn’t have to live their lives avoiding every possible situation that the abusive person could misuse. They can’t control that person’s behavior and we should work to continuously hold abusers accountable for their actions. Abusers go to devastating lengths to isolate their victims from family and friends. It is vital that survivors are able to safely rebuild those important connections, using Facebook and other social networks. Telling a victim to go offline to be safe is not only unacceptable, it further isolates her from people who love her. Our role, as advocates, professionals, friends, and family, is to make sure that survivors know the options to maintain their safety. That’s the empowering strategy – helping survivors take back the control that abusers have tried to steal from their lives. 

This guide addresses privacy on Facebook, as well as safety tips and options for when someone is misusing the site to harass, monitor, threaten, or stalk.  It refers back to Facebook’s Help Center in several places for more detailed information on settings and features – a site that all Facebook users should check out. 

We hope that this guide helps survivors of abuse know how to stay connected through social media while continuing to maintain their safety.

To read our full how-to guide, as well as learn more about Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, please visit Facebook's Family Safety Center

NNEDV is one of five member organizations comprising Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, along with Childnet International, ConnectSafely.org, The Family Online Safety Institute and WiredSafety