Domestic violence is rampant in Australia. It is estimated that 1 out of 3 Australian women will experience domestic violence and mostly involves in some forms of technology.
According to Rebecca Shearman, Program Director of Domestic Violence Action Centre in Southeast Queensland, the most common forms of technology-facilitated abuse are sms harassment, monitoring or stalking someone via social media and use of GPS tracking to stalk.
“A lot of people don’t realise that factory settings on most mobiles include things like automatic check-in and geo-tagging for photos on Facebook,” she says.
“It can also be about restricting access to technology as well, which for most of us impacts our life these days.”
But these abuses can also be stopped when technology is used as an avenue to innovate domestic violence solutions.
Domestic Violence App Saving Victims Lives
Photo Credit: Aurora Domestic Violence App
A recent study was conducted by Professor Heather Douglas from the University of Queensland, shows that 65 female victims of domestic and family violence have used technology as evidences in court.
“Increasingly we’ve seen that women are using recordings, whether they are video or audio recordings of their partners, in evidence in court,” she says.
“So obviously that’s a very helpful thing for women.”
With Smarthomes, and usage of smart locks or applications, these technology breakthroughs can signal alarm about the approach of perpetrators, secure the home and notify authorities, said Mark Burton from the University of Queensland Law School.
A Life-saving Breakthrough
Using technology to aid in combatting domestic violence is a huge life-saving breakthrough for people who are trapped in emotionally, physically or sexually abusive relationships.
Shearman also added that apps like Safety Cards or Smart Tracks which were trialled in Victoria in 2015 and 2016 were successful.
“When I feel threatened I can just press an alarm button and it automatically records what’s happening,” one trial participant told RN last year.
“One of the things that I think worked really well about the safety card was that it was a huge deterrent. I made sure that my ex-partner knew that I now carry a personal alarm on me 24-hours-a-day.
“It’s next to my bed, I take it to every room of the house, I take it outside.
With tracking devices, a lot of women are reassured of safety, says Shearman. However, it still needs further study on using these devices as solid evidences in court trials.
“The biggest issue that we see is how to collect that evidence and how that can be used in prosecution,” she says.
“At the moment the police have very limited resources in terms of access to that evidence, and in fact most police officers in our region aren’t even qualified to collect that evidence.