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The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence

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The V Word: Stalking and Technology

Welcome to today’s edition of The V Word.

You can listen to the episode here:

Last week I talked about predation via technology and the Internet.

A reader wrote in sharing her story about her partner stalking her using technology and asked for information.
Abusers often engage in controlling behavior to limit a person’s access to friends, family and information. Limiting the use of technology is one way of controlling a person and using technology to monitor and stalk a person is becoming more frequent the more technology is used to communicate. Abusers will monitor telephone calls and letters and engage in stalking to track their victim’s location. As technology has expanded, so do the tools to frighten, monitor, and control their victims.
Here are somethings to consider that can happen.

  • Someone can monitor your computer use without you knowing it.
  • A “history” cannot be completely erased from your computer.
  • Your cell phone use can be monitored.
  • A global positioning system (GPS) can be placed on your car, in your purse or in your cell phone to track you.
  • Did you know that e-mail is like a postcard and can be intercepted.

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence has provided some great tips on Computer Safety

  • Your Internet browser keeps a record of the Web sites you have visited. It is easy to go back and see what sites the previous user has looked at. This may be of concern to you if you’d like to keep the sites you are looking at confidential. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites.
  • If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer that someone abusive does not have direct or remote (hacking) access to.
  • If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.
  • Spyware can be installed easily and is hard to detect. Every key stroke or web page viewed is recorded and seen by your abuser.

It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities. If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire internet history if that is not your regular habit. If you still wish to delete your internet history, please contact your local crisis center or call the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence at 603-224-8893 for information on how to do this.

Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about. It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a community technology center (CTC), at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.

Additional Technology Tips:

  • Remember that “corded” phones are more private and less interceptable than cordless phones or analog cell phones.
  • e aware you may not be able to reach 911 using an Internet phone or Internet-based phone service. So you may need to be prepared to use another phone to call 911. Contact your local domestic violence program, shelter, or rape crisis center to learn about free cell phone donation programs.
  • If you receive harassing emails, save them as evidence.
  • Use a web-based email service like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail.
  • Choose passwords that are not easy to guess and change passwords often. Do not let your computer save your passwords.
  • Keep your files on a removable disk and put passwords on them to deter access.
  • Be sure your surfing history remains as confidential as possible.
  • You need to make sure that the “Use Inline Autocomplete” box is NOT checked. This function will complete a partial web address while typing a location in the address bar at the top of the browser. If you feel that it is safe to do so, you can disable the auto complete for your web browser.
    Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer have instructions on how to do this.

What can you do?

In Virginia there are many laws to protect children. You can find them at the Department of Criminial Justice Services website:

http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/juvenile/resources/childabusestatutes/index.cfm

How can you help?

Get involved with your local rape crisis center to learn more about internet safety.

For help or information? Here are some options…

  • If you have been assaulted or your child has been assaulted, call 911. Local rape crisis centers and child advocacy centers have advocates they can send to help support you and provide information.
  • For information on how to report an assault in the Richmond, Virginia, USA are, you can call the non-emergency line at 804-646-5100 or go by a local police station office. The main Richmond office is located at 200 East Grace Street.
  • To get a forensic exam to collect evidence and receive medical care, the local hospitals in the Richmond area with Forensic Nurse Examiners are at Medical College of Virginia and St. Mary’s Hospital.
  • For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. That is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.
  • Want to share a story or ask a question? Email me at thevword.radio@gmail.com or tweet me at my twitter account: @preventviolence. You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at www.thevword.org

The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR-LP 97.3 and streamed at wrir.org, read and produced by me, Carol Olson. Music is provided by the Etching Tin

More Resources:

  • “Intimate Partner Violence, Technology, and Stalking” : This article describes a broad range of technologies in intimate partner stalking, including cordless and cellular telephones, fax machines, e-mail, internet-based harassment, global positioning systems, spy ware, video cameras, and online databases.
  • The Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence
  • Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • CyberAngels
  • Women Halting Online Abuse (WHOA)
  • Safety Ed International
  • Online Privacy Alliance
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
  • Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Affairs Department

Ways to Support Stalking Awareness Month – #12

Hold a candlelight vigil to honor victims killed following stalking.  There is a link between stalking behavior and increased risk of death.   The Stalking Resource Center released statistics that identify

  • 76% of intimate partner femicide victims have been stalked by their intimate partner.
  • 67% had been physically abused by their intimate partner.
  • 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder.
  • 79% of abused femicide victims reported being stalked during the same period that they were abused.
  • 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to police before they were killed by their stalkers.

More than 13 percent of women report having been stalked in college. Eighty-one percent of victims who were stalked by an intimate partner also report physical abuse. And 54 percent of female murder victims reported stalking to police before their stalkers killed them – while 76 percent of all those murdered were stalked at least once in the 12 months prior to their death.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/10/08/stalking-campuses-major-issue-expert-says-clery-event#ixzz2ISTXKnXY

 

Donate Stalking Education and Prevention Curriculum Programs to local schools, churches, rape crisis and domestic violence centers.

Some Resources: 

National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention – Second Step: A Violence Prevention Program

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – Violence Prevention Curriculum for Adolescents 

Peace Over Violence – In Touch with Teens

Ways to Support Stalking Awareness Month #9 – subscribe to journals to keep educated

Subscribe to local blogs or journals to get regular information on stalking and interpersonal violence in your community.

The Source: Stalking in the News

OVW Blog

SafetyWeb – a site about cyber stalking

In Virginia:

Joining the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance provides you with a subscription to their journal: Revolution

Ways to support Stalking Awareness in your community #7 – Learn about it.

Learn about the history of National Stalking Awareness Month.  “In January 2004, the National Center for Victims of Crime launched National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM) to increase the public’s understanding of the crime of stalking. NSAM emerged from the work of the Stalking Resource Center, a National Center program funded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, to raise awareness about stalking and help develop and implement multidisciplinary responses to the crime.   Read more about the history by the National Stalking Awareness Month. org.

Read the Stalking Fact Sheet for more information on statistics of stalking and it’s relation to other interpersonal crime.

 

Ways to Support Stalking Awareness #6 – Support a Victim

If you suspect someone is a victim, ask if they are safe or need someone to talk to. Explain that free and confidential services are available at their local sexual or domestic violence program.

RAINN has a list of Sexual Assault Centers around the nation.

In Virginia, the Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance has a list of centers around the state.

The Virginia Commonwealth University has tips for students.

 

Ways to Support Stalking Awareness Programs #5 – Join your state coalition

One way you can impact stalking in your area is to join your state’s anti-violence coalition and national training organizations.

End Violence Against Women International provides advocacy and training of law enforcement and other allied professionals. Their annual training this year is being held in Baltimore, MD in April 3-5

In Virginia, The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance provides legislative advocacy, advocate and allied professional training, prevention education, awareness campaigns and a bi-annual professional retreat.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence has a complete listing of coalitions in every state.

Ways to Support Stalking Awareness in Your Community #4 – Appreciation

Are there programs or individuals in your community who has worked to stop stalking or raise awareness?  Recognize those folks for their very important work whether public officials, community members, law enforcement officials, non-profit workers, or volunteers–anyone in your community who has worked to stop stalking–with a certificate of appreciation.

Stalking Awareness Month has a a sample certificate you can download and use:

Certificates of Appreciation

Contact your local radio/TV stations and ask them to air some short Public Service Announcements (PSA)

National Stalking Awareness Month.org has some Sample Public Service Announcements for you to use:
Public service announcements (PSAs), brief on-air messages, can reach millions of potential NSAM supporters. Contact the public service departments at local radio and
TV stations, and ask if they will air your PSA. Offer them the sample PSAs below, which can be used as “live-copy” scripts for an announcer to read on the air or for the
station to adapt for its own PSA. Remember to include your organization’s local contact information in your PSA.
15-second PSA:
Did you know stalking affected 6.6 million Americans in one year? Stalking is a dangerous crime that can happen to anyone. If you or someone you know is being
stalked, contact [Name of Organization] at [phone number], or visit [website].
30-second PSA:
Imagine that you don’t feel safe. Someone is following you, texting and e-mailing you, and you are afraid. In one year, 6.6 million Americans were victims of stalking—a
dangerous crime that can happen to anyone. If you or anyone you know is being stalked, or to find out more about stalking, contact [Name of Organization] at [phone number], or visit [website].

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