1800RESPECT Technology facilitated abuse – safety and support for people affected

November 6, 2019 posted by

>>Host: Hello everyone and welcome to today’s 1800RESPECT webinar about technology facilitated abuse, understanding the issues and how frontline
workers can improve the safety of women. I’m Kelly Brown from 1800RESPECT. 1800RESPECT is the national sexual assault domestic and family violence counseling service. This service provides support for anyone impacted by sexual assaults, domestic or family violence including frontline workers that
are seeking information, advice or support. Before we start today I would like to acknowledge
the traditional owners of the land on which we are gathered and pay my respects to their
elders both past and present. We thank you for taking part today and for your commitment to improving the safety and support of women and children across Australia. 1800RESPECT is pleased to partner with WESNET on this webinar. While technologies can provide a
very valuable, flexible link to family, friends and support services for women experiencing
domestic and Family Violence they can also become a tool for an abuser to harass, control,
monitor and humiliate an intimate partner or ex-partner. At the end of this webinar
we will provide you some information about some exciting new 1800RESPECT resources that
can support frontline workers and women to increase their safety when using digital technology.
These resources will be made available in the 2016 1800RESPECT frontline workers toolkit
that will be launched on the 25th of November as part of the 16 days of action, so stay
tuned for more information about that and sign up on our homepage of the website to
our newsletter or download our toolkit to make sure that you receive these resources.
Please note that today’s webinar is live and its interactive and throughout the webinar
we encourage you to actively participate by using or typing into the chat box that is
on the bottom left-hand corner located to the right of the cog wheel. We will try to
answer as many of your questions at the end of the webinar as possible. If you’re experiencing
difficulties with sound during the webinar please use the chat box or dial the 1800 support
number that’s listed below so finally now we are very pleased to welcome our presenter for today Karen Bentley. Our presenter Karen is the National Director for the WESNET Safety Net Australia project, there she is on screen now giving a little wave! Karen delivers technology
safety training to Australian agencies and organizations that work with women experiencing
or escaping gender-based violence and stalking. She’s been working with the violence against
women sector since 1998 in various positions and roles at the federal government national
state and grassroots agency levels. I’d now like to pass over to Karen to begin.
Thank you Karen.>>Karen: Thanks Kelly and thanks for that introduction. So hello everyone and shortly I’m going to just pop off the screen as I start the Webinar and I’d also like to acknowledge the elders past and present of all the lands that we are on today so as Kelly said I’m the National
Director of the Safety Net Australia Project and today we’re going to be doing
a very quick run-through we’re going to give you a brief overview of some of the common
ways that frontline services of seeing technology facilitated abuse with their clients I have
to say this is a really huge topic and we’re really only going to scratch the surface today
but at the end of this webinar I’d really like you to be able to leave and have a better
understanding of how technology is being misused by perpetrators, how you can best support your
clients when they are experiencing it and what ways that women can use technology to
actually collect evidence and hold perpetrators accountable and at the end will also give
you some useful resources and links to other organizations that can support you and your
clients and that will and then of course we have the 1800RESPECT frontline agency kit
which will be a great resource. I do need to let you… so Safety Net Australia we’ve
been up and running since 2011 and we work with the National Network to End Domestic
Violence which is our US-based sister agency and they’ve been working in this space since
2002 and they’ve trained over 90,000 domestic violence workers, police prosecutors and others
so we use their curriculum here in Australia and we’ve adapted it for the Australian use
so it’s great to have that resource there. WESNET is the national peak advocacy body
in Australia for domestic and family violence services and we’ve got about 350 members around
Australia which is made up of women’s shelters refuges, safe houses, outreach services, legal
housing and homelessness services and things like information and referral services.
We provide high-level advice to governments and other decision-makers and we’re also the lead agency for the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance So just before we begin I just want
to make sure that we go through our understanding of domestic and family violence so that we’re
all on the same page so we understand domestic violence or domestic and Family Violence to
be more than physical violence it also includes sexual, emotional, financial, spiritual and cultural
and now we say technological abuse. These are all tactics of coercive power and control
and they’re often used together by the abuser to have control and power over his victim
we understand domestic and family violence against women to be a gendered issue and with
huge human and economic costs to individuals communities and society. We know that one
woman every week is killed by their current or former partner and that the vast majority of acts whether against men or women are perpetrated by men But regardless of gender, violence against
anyone is unacceptable and it’s devastating to anybody who is subjected to it and so while
we recognize and acknowledge that men are also victims of violence and that women can
perpetrate violence, today’s presentation is targeted to prevent technology facilitated
violence against women and their children. So I’ll move on from there..so how much of
a problem is this, and we’re very lucky in Australia to have had a project that recently
looked at this. So WESNET Woman’s Legal Services New South Wales and DVRCV collaborated last
year on a project called Recharge which was funded by ACAN and the Domestic Violence Resource
Center in Victoria undertook a survey of 546 domestic violence practitioners and it found
that ninety-eight percent of those practitioners had supported clients who have experienced
tech abuse and this is similar to results that they found of previous 2013 survey and
it’s also what’s being found in the United States and late last year the federal Attorney-General
Cybercrime Working Group stated that there is now almost universal overlap between domestic
violence and technology abuse. The four most common types of technology that are used in Australia to threaten harm or stalk women are texting, Facebook, email and GPS location
tracking. At WESNET we’re increasingly called by support workers across the country for
advice regarding the women that you are all supporting and men are turning up meters away
from refuges. We know that women are experiencing multiple forms of abuse and it can be online and offline and they feel like there is no escape. One recent article described it as
tethering of women. Women feel like it’s 24 hours a day and they are forever looking over their shoulder with no escape or release possible. So there are many different ways to categorise
technology facilitated abuse but one way to look at it is falling generally into these
four categories. So harassment which is basically using technology to annoy, abuse, harass or
intimidate it could be by phone, it could be by text message, email, instant message or some other
means. The second way is monitoring and stalking. So this is generally about somebody accessing
a person’s technology either physically or remotely to learn or know about what they’re
doing and what their activities are. It could also be using the location technology
to track somebodys physical location. The third type or third category is impersonation so this
is where people pretend to be somebody else as a tactic of further abuse so they might
impersonate somebody or pretend to be someone else to cause harm or ruin a reputation or
damage a relationship or they might impersonate somebody to stop access to services. And the
fourth area is threats and punishment so that might be threatening to harm or threatening
to humiliate for example by posting naked images if she ever leaves is a very common
tactic of abusers to prevent a woman from leaving a violent situation and there can also be
an element of punishment so where abusers log into people’s accounts change their passwords
and prevent them from having access to either government portals, online accounts, emails
or bank accounts. Could we have the first poll now? So I just thought I’d ask all of you
what types of abuse you’re seeing in your clients. So as we can see text messaging is
quite popular as is Facebook and location tracking and this really mimics and is consistent with the findings of the Australian survey that was carried out in 2015. [no audio] So we might stop that poll there and move on. [no audio] Thank you. OK. So before we do move on it’s really essential and one of the main points that I’d like you to take away from the webinar is that it’s really
essential for women to continue to use technology but we just want to promote the safest way
for them to use it so how many of you have heard of someone complaining about being harassed
on Facebook and then heard someone else advise them to just get off Facebook? We hear it all
the time. It’s the same old story which is that the responsibility is placed on the victim
to avoid the abuse rather than the abuser being held accountable and with technology
this can mean that women basically have to get off technology or stop using the technology
but it shouldn’t really have to be the answer and we already know that if you’re experiencing
domestic and Family Violence it’s got a devastating impact on women and their children in terms
of the financial, emotional and general well-being and asking these women to also get off technology
is just a further punishment and it’s very difficult now to actually live in Australia
and not have access to technology and in fact the UN has passed a non-binding resolution
in June this year to say that it’s now a human rights violation to take internet access away.
It’s really not practical for women to have to give up technology, there are too many things
you cannot do if you don’t have access to the internet. Trying to claim from Medicare
or government benefits without access to technology is extremely difficult it’s also important
for women who are in abusive situations to have access to support and services and if
things get worse or things get particularly violent technology or a phone might be the
only way she can actually reach out and get help. The other really good thing about technology is that it can be used to gather evidence against the perpetrators so this is something we want
to really focus on. We need to turn the tables on asking women to get off technology, we need to stop telling them that they should get off it and it’s not the technology that’s the problem it’s actually the person who is misusing the technology to abuse. We basically say this is
old behavior with new tools. So emerging technology abuse is now well and
truly emerged in Australia and we’ve seen that over the last five years or so and it’s increasingly
being used against women so it’s really important to harness technology to promote safety and it can be used as I said to gather evidence against perpetrators. Safety planning around
technology should be individual and specific and technology can absolutely help with information
and achieving safety. We’re not saying either that women experiencing technology abuse should
stay on every single bit of technology no matter what, we need to actually do this in
a planned and risk assessment manner. There will be times when it might be safer for her
to be temporarily off certain devices or applications but we don’t want that to be a long-term arrangement.
Basically there is a gender divide again in technology and we need women to have full
and safe access to technology because punishing them by making them get off it is really not
going to help the situation. [no audio] So today because we’ve got limited time we’re really going to focus mostly on mobile phones and there is a particular reason why we focus on mobile
phones and that is because your phone has more computing power now than all of NASA
did in 1969, so It’s amazing what you can actually do. When we first started doing this
training in 2011 we actually did separate training modules on computers and phones but
now we find that they are merging and what applies to computers also applies to smartphones.
We can do so much more on a smartphone than we used to be able to and a smartphone can
pretty much do anything a computer can do and sometimes it can do more, so if you think
about your use of smartphones you make phone calls, you text, you read your emails, listen
to music, check your Facebook, check the weather, read the newspaper, watch videos, take photos,
the list just goes on. There are all sorts of things that we can do using a smartphone
today. Thinking about the ways that phones can be abused it really ranges from simple
right through to incredibly complex. So starting at the simple end it might just be as simple
as receiving an abusive phone calls or multiple phone calls or multiple texts. One of the
most common ways is just for perpetrators to ring them up and verbally abuse their victims.
Text messages as I mentioned before, is one of the most common ways that we’re hearing
about technology abuse. He could just monitor so each night the perpetrator might just get access
to her phone and read through what she’s been doing, he might manipulate her phone features, we’ve heard of cases where phones have been redirected to another number so that she doesn’t receive
any phone calls at all. We know that mobile phones can easily be used as listening devices
and we’ve had a case a few years ago where a client found a mobile phone in her bed base
and another who found a phone in the wall cavity of her room, connected to the power. [no audio] We know also that phones can be used for spying with spyware. In the case of the phone in
the wall the perpetrator had just set it to silent and he presumably rang in whenever
he wanted to hear what was happening in the bedroom. So with spyware I’ll come to that in a minute but let’s just go back to text messaging for a minute because it’s the most common way that we’re
hearing about technology abuse happening and there are lots of different ways now apart
from just sending the normal SMS or MMS on your phone so here are three different ways.
You can send messages through device specific applications things like Imessage or BB message.
Apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Snapchat and Signal are all types of apps that you can now download,
they don’t have any charge and you can send messages through those. Then there’s a whole
range of messaging apps through social media platforms so Messenger from Facebook is probably
the third or fourth most popular social media platform in the world at the moment and that
is just basically around sending text messages so a lot of different ways to send texts.
This means that sometimes it’s easier for messages to be faked or falsified, or spoofed
which is where somebody sends a text message but it looks like it’s coming from somebody
else. Or they can be sent anonymously via a website or virtual text messaging service.
So it’s worth having that in mind or being aware of that, if your clients are experiencing
text messaging abuse but you can’t tell where it’s coming from. Some of the Apps have
actually evolved to try and make evidence collection a little bit harder. They’re also
designed to try and increase people’s privacy so we’ve got Apps like Tiger Text, Snapchat
and WhatsApp where the messages actually self-destruct and disappear and of course
we’ve had a range of other apps which have developed in concert with that to try and
stop that from happening so that you can’t hide them but they are all there. So lots
of different ways to send texts and if your clients are experiencing text messaging abuse
here are some things that you can get them to do. It’s important to get them to document
the threatening or harassing calls or messages so with the text messages you can get them
to take a screenshot and there are lots of videos on the website around eSafety for women
that can tell you that. If she’s really being harassed and she just needs to have a break
from that she might consider blocking his number temporarily although that may not stop
the abuse from happening. She might consider getting a new phone or she might use a virtual phone number to avoid having to talk to him on a particular phone. If she is going to
get a new phone she needs to be a bit strategic when she’s creating a new account or linking
them to current email accounts because if the abuser is also on the account it may provide
him with access to the new phone number so for example, if you get a new prepaid service
you need to ensure that your contact details with the phone provider for example Telstra
are up-to-date. We’ve had cases where women have got a new account but they haven’t updated
their details and so they have a new number but then that perpetrator is notified immediately
because he’s on the contact details and the information is just sent straight through
to him. Documenting is really important and we’ll come back to that a bit later on about why. So let’s just move on quickly now to the really complicated end of mobile phone technology abuse and that’s where we have spyware or monitoring software installed on phones. Spyware for mobile phones or smartphones is very similar in what it can do compared
to what it does on a desktop computer. It can track the location using the GPS features
of the phone. You can monitor all calls, texts, and messages that go in and out of the phone.
You can dial up or ring into it and record or listen to all the calls. Some of the spyware
apps have got things so when you receive an incoming call it also rings on the phone thats
monitoring your phone at the same time so you can live intercept phone call. It records
all the websites that are visited. It can take a screenshot of everything that’s happening
on the phone every second and keep a store of that so that the perpetrator can just browse
through what’s happening and you can access everything on the phone so that all the photos,
all of contacts, all the emails, everything on the phone, it’s basically like having complete
access to the phone while not having the phone. Software at the moment generally you still
require physical access to the phone to install spyware or you need to have clicked on a link
or accepted some kind of invitation by text or email to then install the software. So
it requires the owner of the phone or the person on the phone to actually take some
steps to have it installed. However that is starting to look like it will change soon,
because the spyware companies are developing their apps, and recently, it was in late August there was an appdeveloped by a hacker that was designed to infect an iphone by stealth. Apple has fixed
that up for the time being but I don’t think it will be very long before we will see that
by spyware is being installed remotely. The thing about spyware is that it’s extremely
difficult to detect. Here are some of the ways that your clients might be able to… or think they might know. You’ll potentially see unusual battery drain on the phone so the phone drains the battery
much more quickly and typically you also see spikes in data usage so they are the two main
things. The reason for the spike in data usage is because everything on the phone is being
replicated so what will generally see it’s a pattern where the data use has been a certain
amount and then it will double. You’ll see the point that the spyware was installed on
the phone because the data usage will definitely double. You might find things like the phone
takes a lot longer to shut down because of course the spyware might have remote access
so it can turn on and turn off the phone remotely, the screen might light up when it’s not being
not being used, or people might hear a clicks or sounds when they’re on the call if they’re
being intercepted so you’ll actually hear background noise or you might hear strange
clicks and electrical sounds. The main way the abuser seems to know stuff around what’s going on with his victim that he could only know if he had access to the phone. If the
perpetrator has had physical access to the phone that might be another thing. Older phones
of course do have battery drain that goes a lot faster so that’s not in itself a reason
to suspect that you’ve got spyware on your phone. You really usually have to have a range
of these types of things happening before you can jump to the conclusion that there’s
spyware on the phone. But that spike in data usage and the abuser uses this to basically threaten, intimidate or scare their victims. They usually let slip some tips or hints that
they know things that they shouldn’t know. So if you do have a client who thinks that she
might have spyware it’s pretty important to trust the survivors instinct a lot of times
victims of technology abuse will seek support from other services and they basically won’t
be believed. It’s important to try and narrow down the options to try and identify what could
be happening, if it is actually hard to work out whether its spyware it could actually
be something else on the phone that’s not spyware that is revealing or making it possible
for the perpetrator to track her location or understand what’s going on. It might be
important if she does think that her phone is compromised for her to strategically use
other options for safety and that might be using a safer phone or using a safer device,
one that she thinks is not compromised. Using a safer phone or a phone that’s not her mobile
phone or not in her house might be a better option than continuing to use her phone. If
she does get a new phone she needs to be quite careful about transferring content from an
old phone to a new phone in case something like spyware is installed and that just gets
transferred from the old phone to the new phone. And as I said before it’s really important
to update contact details before you activate a new prepaid account so that you don’t inadvertently
alert the perpetrator, who might have been on the same account in the past, that there
is a new number. The other really important thing here is for women who do get a new phone or try to use a safer phone that they don’t use the new phone around the old phone because
the phone that is compromised, if it does have spyware on it, can have the mic opened
and it can just listen to everything that’s going on in the room where that phone is.
Very often we hear about women who have got a new phone but they’re on the new phone talking
to their mom or sister and saying “I’ve got a new phone here’s my new number” and
of course the perpetrator is listening on the old phone which he happens to have in
the same location. So safe tip for that is to wrap it up in a jumper or leave it in a
separate room if she’s going to use a new phone. I can’t stress enough that if she thinks
she’s being monitored in some way then she probably is. Trying to work out how, might
be the thing that’s a bit harder. So it’s really important to think very carefully before you
remove the technology and that’s because if the perpetrator is monitoring her remotely
at a distance, particularly if she’s in a separate location or has left the relationship,
that’s one thing but if you remove that remote monitoring device or ability for him to monitor
where she is he may turn up in person and that could be much worse scenario for her.
So think very carefully before you remove any type of tracking or surveillance device
or anything where he might be monitoring what she’s doing because it may escalate the violence.
The second reason and another very important reason, is that if you suddenly get rid of
a mobile phone, ditch it, delete it or you get rid of an app you may actually be destroying
the evidence so that might be something that’s really crucial if things escalate and it needs
to go to court. So always… If she’s documenting stuff, if she’s taking screenshots of text messages, if you’re doing that for example
in the Whatsapp app, it tells you that somebody else is taking a screenshot. So she needs to think
about what will happen if the perpetrator knows that she’s documenting what’s happening.
How does the actual technology inform the perpetrator what’s going on, just thinking
very carefully and having a safety plan before actually removing technology. It may be safer
for her to keep a compromised phone but limit what she says on that phone and use a safer
phone than suddenly freaking out about the phone and ditching it altogether. This is probably a good point to tell you about the Telstra safe connections program. Telstra has actually donated 20,000
smartphones to WESNET to distribute to women who are experiencing
domestic violence and who need a safer phone and it comes with thirty dollars prepaid credit
and we will also come and train local agencies who are the distributing agencies about technology
abuse and how to hand over phones safely to women. So that is a great new initiative that
we are just starting with. I’ll give you more information on that at the end. So moving onto location, which is another aspect of smartphones that is really intrinsic. So smartphones can track our location
without us even knowing it. This is a great feature on smartphones
and it helps us in many ways from basic GPS, but it’s also increasingly a problem for women.
So some apps collect information and they need location information to operate but it’s really
important to have a look at all the apps and have a look at what location settings are turned on.
Most apps will ask you permission about whether or not they’re going to record
your location but the other thing about location-tracking is that it’s not always
apps, it could actually just be that it’s a phone that is handed to a child and that
has location tracking, the parent then access the contact details to locate them so it’s
not always a location feature but smartphones can still be used. The other thing to be aware
of these is things like accidentally sharing, so geo-tagging so location can be added to pictures
that are taken with phones and if you upload those to some forms of social media it might
actually reveal the location of the woman if she’s sharing photos through social media.
I should just say that Facebook currently strips that data so it might be safer for
a woman who’s in a secret location to send photos up through Facebook rather than directly
because they’ll still have data in them. The safety tips around this are for a woman
to turn off the location services in her mobile devices settings if she thinks it’s safe to
do so. So if she’s trying to stay hidden that would be very important for her but if she’s
in a current relationship and he is monitoring her whereabouts it may not be safe to turn
that off. You can turn off the geo-tagging for photos in the settings of most smartphones
and you can control which apps access your location. It’s probably a good idea to actually
declined the location access on most apps unless you absolutely need it to do it, so
obviously a map app would need to have location turned on but there are all sorts of other
apps that ask for your location details and they don’t have any reason to have it. Working
out location tracking can be quite tricky, so is it because of the phone if she’s being tracked
or has he got access to the phone, has he got some other access to an account that
tells him where she is. Asking a client to leave her phone behind or to turn it off might not actually be realistic, that might be the only way that she can actually get help
or call triple 000 if she needs it. So you need to weigh the privacy versus safety risks
with mobiles and location. You also need to talk to your clients about their children’s use of mobile phones, quite often children are given devices by Apple or other devices,
by the non-resident parent so that they can communicate and they are often misused to track
and if it’s not the phone you might actually need to start thinking about what
else might be tracked is it the car, is it another tracking app or another device or is it something as simple as Facebook tagging by a friend. Social media. So we’ll just quickly
go through some of the social media things so almost everyone is using social media today
including clients, victims and abusers. Many users don’t understand the privacy options
of social media sites so pictures and information are frequently posted on sites and they’re
often used against people in court cases, by employers, future employees when doing things
like job applications. So many social media sites are collecting all sorts of information about users and the ways in which they can be misused is that abusers can monitor victim’s pages,
they can set up whole new fake profiles they can hijack those pages and embarrass, harass
or basically wreck relationships. Quite often we hear about people friending the victims
friends and family so they can gather information about what they’re doing on social media but
also through search engines and they also can use social media to post really horrible
naked or harmful images which is often colloquially known as revenge porn. We know that this is happening quite
a lot so that DVRCV survey found that nearly two-thirds of the practitioners
felt that social media was being used to make threats, and it was frequently done via friends
and families and nearly half the practitioners had clients who had perpetrators threatening
to distribute or post private photos so there’s a lot of threats made particularly
to distribute sexualized images through them. Again giving up social networks shouldn’t
be the solution. Talk to the clients about their settings, their privacy and security
settings, talk to them about their use and their children’s use of all online spaces
not just the major social working sites there are all sorts of sites where they could be
accidentally or unwittingly revealing information. The interconnectedness of the online world
so we have the same email address, often we have the same password you use Facebook to
log into all sorts of different types of programs and apps and so where one is connected to the other.
Avoiding the internet is really not possible but having better privacy and safety is. Teaching your clients about how to keep their privacy and safety settings up to speed
and keeping their software updated is really important. If you do have clients who are experiencing
abuse through either Twitter or Facebook, these are fabulous guides so…oh I can use a
pen…but we have these brilliant guides from the National Network to End Domestic Violence
and one is on Facebook and one of them is on Twitter and these are available through
our website and I’ll give you that address at the end. And we’ve also got a safety planning booklet
that goes through a whole range of different types of online and technology abuse that
you can purchase on our website. If the client is experiencing abuse, document again
what’s happening try to keep a log of what’s happening to establish a pattern there are
stalking, if there is stalking behavior it’s illegal in all states and territories in Australia. Taking screenshots using either on the computer or the phone, if you can’t do that take photographs
of what’s happening on the social media. Printing out the pages, keeping a separate copy in a different location would be useful and also remembering not to delete emails, text messages
or voicemails if they have got abuse. You can also record either abusive phone calls
or conversations if that’s legal to do so. There are some issues around that, Queensland
it’s no problem but for other states in Australia there are some issues around recording. Most people can use that as evidence though if they need to. On social media sites, most
sites have got rules about what’s allowed on their site and there are always some kind
of reporting capacity well for most sites, there are some sites which are a bit shady that do not have that but most genuine social media sites will have a way of removing or reporting unsavory, or abusive, harassing or threatening posts. So have a look at those, most sites have got some kind of notice and takedown procedure. In Australia if you have a client who
is under 18 who is experiencing cyber bullying or some kind of sexual abuse
online you can go through to the office of the Children E-Safety Commissioner. It’s really
fabulous they can help you take things down. You do need to report, what the…make a report using the
social media platform and wait 48 hours and then after that you can report it to the E-Safety
Commissioner and they will try and take it down if they consider it to be cyber bullying
or child sexual abuse online. If you’re over 18 and you’re experiencing serious abuse online there is also the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network, this is really more related
to cyber crime but it is currently the only real avenue with government in terms of over 18s.
Again if you are taking stuff down off social media remember that the abuser might
know if it gets removed so it might escalate him. Removing the post might stop the abuse
from happening but will it escalate the situation? So just thinking about what happens if those
social posts get removed or thwarted. Removing posts particularly in the case of revenge
porn from one site will not necessarily guarantee it’s removed from all. Some of these just
grow like crazy, so once it hits one for example revenge porn site it just spreads across the
whole internet and also remember that removing content might also remove the evidence so
try to document or get her to document every instance of that abuse online before she goes
to remove it that’s really important because once it’s gone it’s very difficult to get back and remember that blocking doesn’t actually remove the content. So with safety planning
for your clients I know we’ve run through that very quickly so we’ve run through phones, location
tracking and social media. There’s no simple checklist. It really is about risk management and what’s safe for her can change really quickly. So it’s exactly the same as safety planning in real life, you just need to have a think about what you’re doing or what you’re advising
your client and let her try to help and think about what she needs to do or what she’d like
to do to try and increase her safety and be prepared to sort of change that if things
start to escalate. Trying to give the client some choice around this is really important
because she’s obviously…the abuser often uses technology abuse to try and control and keep power over
so trying to give that client back some control back some power is really important
rather than doing a blanket ‘right get off the technology’ and try to give the client
tools and strategies so that they can manage their own risk and safety. It’s really important. So the things around technology abuse is that it can really heighten fears and misunderstandings.
It’s quite difficult sometimes to work out how the technology abuse happens, sometimes
it’s obvious you’re getting 50 text messages a minute but sometimes it’s really hard to
work out how the technology is being misused or how she’s been tracked or how he’s finding
out information he shouldn’t have. It’s also really minimized so when women go to the police will report this they’re often told it’s in your head that can’t really be happening so
it’s very easy for people to experience tech abuse as not happening or in
your head. And the perpetrators can be very clever about how they sort of mess with people’s
heads by doing strange things so it doesn’t look like on the surface anything’s happening.
It’s really hard to sometimes identify which technology is causing the problem so trying
to sit down and systematically work out what’s happening and how it might be happening is
a good way to go and that said, even though technology can be misused it’s also can be
used for good so we mustn’t forget that we can turn the tables and actually start using
technology to collect the evidence and also that women can get support and access to services
when they previously couldn’t. So technology is a… So where do you start? You have to think about what’s
happening, so is it just a lot of text messages being abusive or does he keep turning up where
she is, so he keeps finding her. What does he know? Does he know the content of an email? Does he know the content of a conversation that was had on the phone or does he just
know that the conversation or the email was sent? So what does he know and that can help
you identify how the technology being used. What kind of access does he have to her technology?
Has he had access to her home? Is he currently co-located with her and has access to a shared
computer? Does he have access to her phone or not? That can also help you work out what
type of technology. The other thing is, is it technologically possible and that’s hard
to work out sometimes and we hear of some very interesting sort of cases where people
say, you know, he walked past me and there was spyware on my phone but that may not actually
be technologically possible, it might be tomorrow but today it’s not. So actually working out
what actually technologically possible is something to also keep in mind and we also
highly recommend trying to keep it simple don’t jump to conclusions that it’s always
spyware on the phone it might be something really simple like somebody has tagged your
face or your photo on Facebook and that’s revealed your location. Getting rid of technology
is not the answer she might need to get off it temporarily but just wholesale telling
women to get off technology is not what we’re trying to support we want women to be on technology,
use it to get access to support and services, be able to reach out for help and also collect
evidence. In the last few minutes I just want to walk
through some support and resources. We are working with Telstra and if you are interested in the phones, the smartphones
for women, it’s www.wesnet.org.au/phones That’s a great initiative. [No Audio] There are a range of legal guides which
actually go through all the different types of legislation for each state and territory
in Australia and they are available on the SmartSafe.org.au website under legal guides.
There are three sets of guides for every state and territory in Australia and they give you
an overview of relevant legislation in your state for surveillance, other criminal offences
and interventional domestic violence prevention orders. There’s also E-Safety women training
and a website, the office of the Children’s E-Safety Commissioner is rolling out free
two hour training on keeping women safe online that’s coming that’s available through their
website and their website also has a whole range of resources on how to change settings
on mobile phones and smartphones and other devices. Which is a great resource. We’re hosting
the inaugural technology safety summit in Sydney on the twenty-first of November and
that will bring together domestic violence sector, legal, justice, police, government,
corporate and technology companies to talk about the latest emerging issues in
technology safety in Australia. and we have a whole range of hand outs
on our website at wesnet.org.au/safetynet.
So there are SafetyNet handouts for workers and also for clients who might be experiencing
technology facilitated abuse. And now ok for questions.>>HOST: Wonderful Karen, thank you for that presentation and we have had lots of questions
come through so I might jump…>>KAREN: Sorry I did go overtime a bit…>>HOST: [laughing] We’ll have to…we clearly won’t get to all of them but I’ll just jump straight to a few of them right now. Can Telstra shops assist with identifying
and removing tracking devices on the clients phone?>>KAREN: Look I think some Telstra shops
might be able to do that but it’s going to be pretty variable and we know that we certainly
haven’t trained Telstra frontline staff about this issue and they’re certainly not
going to necessarily understand some of the dynamics in domestic and family violence so
we don’t sort of… I think it will be mixed… You could try but we’re not sure that they
would all be able to do it and I think that’s part of the reason Telstra has donated 20,000
smartphones to WESNET, because they want us to distribute those phone through frontline
agencies where women can actually get support from domestic violence workers to do some
safety planning and that we can train the frontline workers on how to give a woman a
new phone more safely that’s a lot easier than trying to identify whether a phone is
compromised.>>HOST: Great and if someone wants to refer a woman to one of those phones how would you find out where they could go to get one of those?>>KAREN: We’re rolling out phase two of this
now so we’re looking for any frontline agency to come and sign on and be a distributing
agency so you can either sign on and become one, we’ll send you the phones you can give
them to your clients or otherwise you ring 1800WESNET and we will try and find the nearest
distributing agency to you.>>HOST: Great! What roles do or should social media companies play in maximizing gendered safety online?>>KAREN: I think this is a really topical issue and we’re really pleased to see, certainly four years ago I don’t think any of the social media companies
were doing anything much about this particular issue but it’s really starting to gather some
speed and we know that our sister agency in the United States had a lot of success with
working with Facebook and Twitter so that’s why we now have those guides for survivors
of domestic and Family Violence so they’re really aware of it and they are working with
our sister agency in the United States to try and really tackle this particular issue
and we’re also starting to see some of the big social media giants taking this more seriously
as well. So I noticed two days ago Instagram has just rolled out a new feature where it
enables people to filter out comments using block lists and that’s the first time that’s
happened. Twitter is also doing quite a lot in terms of trying to stop hate speech and
we also know that Google for example has banned or stopped displaying sites which hosts revenge
porn so you can’t find revenge porn sites on Google so they do have a big role to play,
they are starting to listen there’s a lot more work to do but I think that they will have to play a really big role in trying to deal with this issue.>>HOST: Wonderful! Someone has
asked given the large use of social media what would you recommend as a software safeguard
to protect against abuse through technology?>>KAREN: Oh look there’s no one magic piece of software that’s going to protect somebody from technology abuse, it’s just too big, mind you, if anybody
knows of anybody developing an app let me know because I’d like to buy shares. It would
be amazing! Look there’s no one fixed answer for anything to do with technology abuse but
there are really sensible things you can do so the main thing is around your privacy and
security settings and making sure that you’ve got those software , those media apps on
your phone, apps on your computer up to date so that it’s the latest version because they’re
constantly blocking some of those security holes and you can control who accesses your
account and who sees your content through those two privacy and security settings.
Also having a really strong password is the other thing that I would say because most things
are hacked or accessed by having weak passwords.>>HOST: Right okay, and we’re going to come up to
our final couple of questions, what legal protections exist for women who experience
abuse through technology? Look it’s the same for online or technology abuse as it is for abuse that happens in real life or in day-to-day so we’ve got stalking laws in every
state and territory in Australia so if people are being stalked there are stalking laws so documenting
the evidence and you know the fact that it’s happened more than once and that you’re fearful
is available as an option, but we also have a whole range of crimes in Australia so there’s crimes
in relation to surveilling so listening devices, monitoring, installing spyware are
all illegal. The main way that we deal with domestic and family violence of course is through
intervention orders or domestic violence restraining orders and there are ways and language that
you can include in some of those in some states and territories because of course some have
got mandatory text in them that might be able to include technology but for anybody who’s
interested in legal issues around this issue please go to the SmartSafe.org.au website
and look up the legal guides because they’re are fabulous resource that was created by
the Women’s Legal Service New South Wales and they’re specific to technology abuse
and the legislation in this country. It’s got a little way to go but these are a great
new start in terms of you understanding as a worker what legislation is currently there
that you might be able to advise your client and sometimes it’s really good to be able
to go to the Police and say this is a threat over a carriage service and this is the piece
of legislation that they’re breaching.>>HOST: Wonderful! Thanks Karen I think we might have to move on to wrapping up now but thank you for those questions and answers I’d like to now just
bring to everybody’s attention that the next webinar which will be held in November will
be about vicarious trauma and looking after yourself if you’re a frontline worker. The
date is to be confirmed but if you subscribe either through the homepage of our website
down the bottom is a subscribe function or if you download our toolkit at 1800RESPECT.org.au/toolkit you will keep…
we will endeavour to keep you informed of upcoming webinars. As I said earlier we’re
coming up to the 16 days of action in November and we’ll be releasing a range of different
resources including some new tech safety resources so we recommend that you download the toolkit
as a key way of ensuring that you get those updates during the 16 days of action. I’d
also like to bring your attention to Daisy, which is an app that 1800RESPECT has developed to help connect women and frontline workers as well as family and friends to local support services.
Either services in their regional or local area. Finally I’d like to now thank you for
attending and contributing to today’s webinar if you stay logged in you can take our online
survey. The survey button is located in the bottom right hand corner we really appreciate
your feedback and thank you again for attending and have a pleasant afternoon. Thank you everyone.

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