In the United States alone, a staggering 10 million people experience domestic violence each year, and law enforcement reports indicate that 15% of all violent crime cases in the country involve some form of intimate partner violence. These numbers have only increased as the pandemic worsened and forced millions to spend uninterrupted time in lockdown with their abusers.
It can be challenging for someone experiencing domestic violence to escape their situation or seek help for a variety of reasons: their partner may control their expenses or monitor their online activities, and they may have children involved in the situation. Recently, however, many victims of intimate partner violence have found a way to connect with others and begin to obtain assistance for their situation: using social media.
Across the internet, advocates against domestic abuse have introduced different forms of support for victims that they can safely access without fear of being outed to their abusers. The popular website Reddit, which has subforums related to specific topics such as hobbies or relationship advice, has become one such platform where domestic violence victims can seek help. An independent domestic abuse counselor noticed an increasing amount of posts from users in abusive relationships who were seeking advice and began providing her services to victims for free, working with them to create safety plans and introduce them to available resources.
Similarly, a domestic abuse foundation has found a way to utilize its Facebook page to allow victims to reach out for assistance by using code words and phrases. They posted an update to their page which advised individuals who needed help to send them a message asking about cake recipes. “If you ask me about the one with pineapple, I will know to contact the police or resources to help,” the post read, in addition to encouraging others to share the message on their own personal page: “If you are willing, put something similar on your wall. There is power in numbers.”
Even apps like Snapchat are providing shelter resources for individuals who need to escape their homes due to abuse from their partners. The accessibility of these resources can make it easier to plan an exit strategy and leave a bad situation.
Victims of domestic violence are often under threat for more than just physical harm. Many individuals who experience abuse also deal with their partner controlling their personal lives, including the websites they visit, who they talk to online, and how they interact with them. Apps and social media platforms that have messaging features are beginning to introduce ways for victims to communicate their need for help and still remain under the radar.
On Instagram, the new “Vanish Mode” allows messages to be sent back and forth without creating a history for the chat, which means that anything said between users will disappear completely as soon as a user exits their inbox. The app Snapchat has a similar feature, allowing users to send temporary messages to one another in the form of text chats, videos, or images. This can be used by domestic abuse victims to share evidence or reach out for help in a way that cannot be traced by their partner.
Dedicated apps such as WhatsApp and Confide were created to allow for entirely private messaging. In the case of Confide, users can even encrypt their messages and prevent them from being screenshotted, further ensuring confidentiality and safety. When it comes to sharing information about domestic abuse while still in an abusive relationship, victims can never be too careful.
The internet has long been a source of aid for individuals who have suffered from domestic violence. Those who feel that they cannot ask for help in person usually have more freedom to do so while on the internet. Certain websites are built intuitively to allow victims the option of easily navigating away from the page, a valuable option for individuals who live or share a computer with their abusers.
One notable resource is the website for the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. Their page introduces a feature that allows users to click a red X at the corner of their screens, which will navigate them safely to Google’s search page if they feel that their abuser may be approaching or watching them. Clicking the red X, which remains fixed in position on the screen for easy access, will also remove the website from their browser history, further adding a level of security and safety to the process of seeking help.
It is difficult to live with an abusive partner, but it is even more difficult to escape them. If you are in a situation where you feel that you are being abused by your partner and are looking to file for divorce or to obtain a domestic violence injunction, you will need an experienced domestic violence attorney in Central Florida like the ones at Fighter Law who can help you every step of the way.
When you’re ready to start living your life free from domestic violence and abuse, contact the trusted attorneys at Fighter Law who will work with you safely and effectively. Reach out over the phone at 407-344-4837 or contact us online for more information and a free consultation.
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