Take Back The Tech is a great community across the globe. They have published this helpful guide for workplaces seeking ways to professionally support employees who have endured technology enabled abuse.
As we count down to the forthcoming Summit on Technology Enable Abuse, Be Part Of The Solution the stories of technology enabled abuse that we continue to hear from women is overwhelming and frightening. There is an urgent need for social media defence training in all workplaces.
Threats, vile threats sadly have become the norm. Greater support services must urgently be mobilised by workplaces to protect their employees. It cannot wait. With remote working now the norm for almost all of us from time to time, we must grasp that technology penetrates peoples homes, families and lives. Add abuse to this equation and you have serious disruption to people’s right to quiet enjoyment of life and indeed safety.
URGENT NEED FOR TRAINING
People who are not trained to talk to survivors often say the wrong thing even when they mean well. Some people do not understand that violence online is equal to, and sometimes has an even greater impact than, violence offline. Survivors often go through the same psychological trauma and face real threats in both instances. Therefore, it’s important to talk to survivors in a safe environment, create trust, use respect and avoid judging and making assumptions.
Proper training on types of tech-related violence and their dynamics is helpful, as is knowing how to preserve privacy and protect data. You can learn more about how to deal with privacy and anonymity and how to store data in the Take Back the Tech! companion fact sheets.
WHAT TO CONSIDER
Understand that the survivor may be dealing with trauma, which can cause them to act strangely or exhibit physical distress. Be sure there is a trained person nearby to respond to trauma.
- Recognise that violence is never the fault of the survivor.
- Use sensitivity, and focus on the survivor’s needs.
- Build upon and respect any steps the survivor has already taken.
- Look for heightened risks, such as dependence on technology for medical or assistive reasons.
Create an atmosphere that makes employees feel comfortable seeking help if they feel endangered in any way, and recognise that incidents of tech-related violence spill out into the offline world, including the workplace. Do not act as though the survivor is creating a problem in the office; it is the perpetrator who has created the problem, and the survivor should be supported in finding safety. Unfortunately, intermediaries (telecoms, internet service providers and other platforms through which violence happens) do not have a good track record when it comes to responding to survivors, and therefore, many users do not even bother to use their reporting mechanism.
Intermediaries should use a clear, detailed definition of violence informed by experts in order to allow employees (and users) to recognise violence and label it as such. There is nothing worse than responding to a survivor’s complaint by ignoring the reality she is facing. All form responses should be written in consultation with experts or resource persons who understand how to talk to survivors.
POLICIES & PROTOCOLS NEEDED
- Privacy:A confidential and safe environment can protect survivors from further abuse and make it easier for them to come forward.
- Referrals:Have a list of professionals, organisations and law enforcement agencies you can connect the survivor to for legal, medical, mental health and technical assistance.
Training: Anyone talking to survivors should be up to date on ICT that is used to harass, threaten, monitor and locate survivors, so they can address the benefits and risks of different devices, tools and platforms.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
- Disorganised or repeated interviewing process:Each time a survivor repeats her story she relives it, which can exacerbate trauma. Streamlining the interview/intake process will make this easier.
- Failure to treat survivors as abuse victims:Survivors of tech-related violence should be treated as abuse victims in the offline world and given proper emotional support.
- Victim-blaming: Survivors may come up against others who belittle their experience or blame them for the violence by being visible online. Women have a right to work, play and exercise opinions online. These cannot be used as “reasons” to excuse violence.