Today marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Prevention Month, and a great time to reflect on the reality of domestic violence, and how it can affect any people involved or exposed, their relationships with others, and even entire communities. Domestic violence includes both physical and emotional abuse, but doesn’t always show obvious signs. Frequently hidden from public view, many people in abusive relationships suffer in silence, afraid or unsure of their next steps. In today’s technology-driven atmosphere, recognizing and addressing problems must extend beyond traditional signs.
The technology we use daily makes life more convenient: you can adjust your thermostat before getting home, see who is ringing your doorbell while at work, and look in the fridge to double-check if you need milk while at the grocery store. This same technology makes it easier to keep tabs on people as well. Apps and other smartphone features make it easier to communicate with people, and also keep tabs on what is happening in your home. When taken a step further, technology can be used to stalk, harass, and intimidate a partner. Technology-facilitated abuse is widespread and includes tracking a partner’s location, activities, and communication with friends and family through GPS, apps, and malware. There are some red flags to be aware of in a partner, family member or friend, and yourself if you suspect technology-facilitated abuse in your relationships.
If any of this sounds familiar, you are not alone. You should feel safe and respected in your relationships, online and in-person. For help feeling safe online and in your relationship, contact your local Family Advocacy Program. Victim advocacy and counseling services are available to provide support and assistance.
It can, often times, be pretty easy to define a physically unsafe relationship. It is a relationship where one or both partners are hit, pushed, or physically harmed in some way. It becomes more complicated to determine if a relationship is emotionally unsafe.
Social media is a great way to keep in contact with your long distance friends and family, but it can quickly take your attention away from your relationships closest to home.