A new safety guide to help frontline workers and victims recognize and combat technology-facilitated domestic abuse was launched in Cork on Wednesday.
Safe Ireland and the National Cyber Security Awareness Taskforce developed the brochure over the past year.
Abusers use technology to control their partners, but first responders don’t always understand this new form of crime.
The Safety Guide is designed for domestic violence professionals who work with victims of domestic abuse and coercive control.
Safe Ireland chief executive Mary McDermott said digital abuse follows the norms of other forms of abuse in that victims are often blamed, disbelieved or dismissed.
“Technology-facilitated abuse has become a powerful means of coercion on the part of perpetrators that allows significant reach beyond the confines of the home.
“Since healthy behaviors regarding technology use have not yet been culturally established, in many cases women may not recognize technology-facilitated coercion and abuse, as the behavior may be perceived as normal.”
Ms. McDermott said that domestic abuse transcends race and social class.
@CyberAwareIRE Task Force announcing the launch of the brochure Supporting Women – Responding to Technology – Facilitated Domestic Abuse. prepared with @SAFEIreland Available➡️ https://t.co/K6YvoJ73xT
Well done to our colleague. @rosiecoff for being part of this valuable resource ?? pic.twitter.com/zPJUDsdfu0
— UCC IT Services (@UCCITServices) October 5, 2022
The perpetrators won’t necessarily be the “monstrous, knuckle-dragging” stereotype of an abusive man, but a toxic culture is found everywhere that allows people to control their partners and children.
Recognizing how abuse occurs through technology, such as location tracking and “bombing” someone’s phone with lots of messages, is important for first responders and victims, he said.
Improving victims’ skills, to help them spot when someone is taking advantage of them, is also a vital function of the booklet, Ms. McDermott said.
the brochure,was launched on the sidelines of the National Cyber Ireland Conference.
It follows a two-week advertising campaign in Cork that raised awareness of behavioral red flags signaling technology-facilitated abuse.
Joanne O’Connor, founder of Cyber Awareness Ireland, said: “The partnership between the National Cyber Security Awareness Taskforce and Safe Ireland is bridging the technology security knowledge gap between the cyber security industry in Ireland and the national organization that supports survivors of domestic abuse. .
Louise O’Hagan, co-founder of Cyber Awareness Ireland, said the guide has been very well received by frontline services.
She said a paradigm shift is overdue in society so that the focus shifts to keeping people safe online, not just data.
Alicia O’Sullivan, founder of Safety Over Stigma, a group that aims to educate people about technology-facilitated abuse and their rights and responsibilities online, said she wishes the guide had been available sooner.
When he reported that someone had created a fake online profile using his images, linking him to pornographic sites, he felt Garda understood the issue and training in the area was lacking.
“I wish I was there when I reported the abuse. Proper training of frontline staff is vital.
“There are other sensitive crimes for which training has been provided. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have the same sensitivity for sex crime victims, particularly the added stigma of it being virtual.”
Support training initiatives, including free Cyber Security Essentials Training webinars provided by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and an informative video series created by security software development company Trend Micro are provided in conjunction with the user information.
A new accredited online course on technology-assisted abuse is currently being developed at University College Cork. The course will be available nationally and is designed specifically for frontline domestic abuse professionals, but is also expected to be of great interest to university staff and students.