Manitoba

Most cases of domestic violence involve technology, expert says

Training session aims to teach those who work with survivors about dangers of technology

October 31, 2018

November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Manitoba. (Shutterstock)

People who work with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence will get a lesson in the use and abuse of technology and how to best protect survivors and hold those responsible to account.

A group called Ending Violence Across Manitoba is holding a training session on Thursday about domestic violence and technology. The session marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Prevention Month.

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"We know in most cases of domestic violence technology is used in some way whether it's texting or using a phone or using a computer," said Mary Lobson, executive director of EVA Manitoba. "Messages are communicated or people are communicating via technology. And so we know then that where it is being used, there's opportunity for it to be misused."

One of the biggest technological changes posing a threat to domestic violence victims is what is commonly referred to as the 'Internet of things,' said Lobson.

"There's so many things that now we have in our homes that are connected to the Internet. To have that awareness that any time we're using technology for good, there's always people out there who may use technology for not good reasons," she said.

CBC Manitoba reported on the story of a woman whose abusive ex-husband is facing charges of voyeurism and distributing intimate images without consent after she discovered hidden video cameras installed in her home, including in her bedroom.

While she couldn't comment on that specific case, Lobson said it's important to have honest conversations with survivors of domestic violence about how they use technology, and how it can be used against them.

"One shouldn't be paranoid, one should be mindful and have an awareness so that they can be safe online, or safe when using technology," she said.

Manitoba has the second-highest rates of domestic violence in Canada, Lobson said. Changing that requires prevention work that brings in multiple agencies, as well as reaching out to men and boys to ensure everyone is working toward a common goal.

Currently, she says there is no funding available for work related to domestic violence and technology.

"Any work we do relating to tech is work we do because we're committed to the project and think it's really important work," she said.

Anyone who works with survivors of domestic violence should have open and honest conversations with their clients about how they use technology, where they use it, and if they have kids, how and where they are involved online, Lobson said.

With files from Samantha Samson
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