Technology’s Rise in Domestic Violence


Technology's rise is domestic violenceTechnology is constantly changing, and keeping up with the rapid pace of change can be overwhelming. We now have the ability to control our thermostat, locks, lights, bank accounts, etc. – from anywhere on our phones. While these digital tools bring a list of efficiencies for many; they bring a whole new set of challenges for others.

Imagine your thermostat suddenly kicking up to 100 degrees…or the digital lock code for your front door changing every day…or the lights suddenly turning off when no one else is home. This is no longer a scene from a scary movie, but a real-life horror story played out in domestic abuse situations. Absers now have new ways to harass, monitor and control their partners – in some cases even after they have left the home.

“He controls the thermostat. He controls the lights. He controls the music.” a survivor stated.

At Harbor House we are vigilant of the ever-changing digital revolution and dedicated to keeping survivors safe. We understand that when technology is harnessed for good it can be a lifeline connecting people to resources, increasing a survivor’s privacy and security, and helping drive advocacy and social change movements. We also understand the devastating impact that can occur when technology is misused which is why discussing privacy and technology is a regular part of our safety planning with clients.

This summer, Harbor House’s Crisis Advocate, Kim, and Office Manager, Kabao, attended the 6th Annual Technology Summit hosted by the The National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net Project. The conference focused on the “intersection of of technology, domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking”. Training sessions covered a wide range of technology-related issues and resources to help advocates who work with survivors of abuse. This international conference included tech leaders from Apple, Facebook, Google, Uber, etc. who educated advocates on how to use technology safely to benefit survivors and programming.

“Technology is a great thing. It gives us the power to explore beyond our everyday lives. As advocates, we have a responsibility though to educate ourselves and our clients on how harmful it can be.” – Kim, Harbor House Crisis Advocate

Our Building Hope Capital Campaign has allowed us to reinvision the way we use technology. A new building means new, upgraded technologies and we are excited about the possibilities of how technology will improve and shape our services and programming in the future.

“Starting internet chat would be such a great way to better accommodate the needs of survivors. I believe that if we have online chat available on our website, we will be able to reach a whole new population of people who may otherwise feel like they are unable to reach out to us. I am excited about what the future of technology will bring here at Harbor House.” said Kim

We still need additional support to equip our space with the technology needed to take Harbor House to the next level of service for our clients. If you would like to support our mission to utilize technology to better serve clients, consider becoming a monthly donor which will provide the consistent support needed to maintain and improve access to safety and technology.

If you or someone you know has concerns about technology being used to control in an abusive situation, our advocates are here 24/7.