Amid all the glorious fall colors (in New England and other areas) you’ll also find a lot of Pink.  Pink is synonymous with Breast Cancer Awareness month.  But you’ll also see another color Purple.  Purple is associated with Domestic Violence Awareness month. Today, I want to discuss the impact of Technology on Domestic Violence.

As someone who used to work for Verizon Wireless, I was proud of how the company used technology to provide assistance. This included HopeLine, Verizon’s own cell phone recycling program which recycled or refurbished collected phones.  From the money raised, over 14 million in grants was provided to shelters and over 100,000 phones with free minutes were provided so shelters could give the phones to victims.  Because people are now focused on trading in their phones or selling them, donations dwindled which caused Verizon to end the program.  While HopeLine has ended, their commitment to victims of domestic violence has not.  They will maintain support for the #Hope feature, which allows any Verizon Wireless customer to connect to the National Domestic Violence Hotline simply by dialing #Hope on their mobile phone.

In It Is the Wounds of the Heart I wrote about the numbers of domestic violence.  Did you know that more women were killed between 2001 and 2012 than the combined number of people killed in domestic terror attacks along with the number of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan? Over 2000 more.  Having access to a landline or wireless phone might mean the difference between life and death for a victim of domestic violence.

But technology is a double-edged sword.  Phones can be tracked, computers can’t be completely wiped.  A small GPS tracking device can be placed in a bag or vehicle.  It’s important to have the technology to stay safe, but it’s also important to know how technology can be used against you.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has recommendations for how to use technology.  This includes using a burner phone to make calls instead of the phone your partner gave you.  Phone activity can be tracked.  Go to the library and use their free computer service, set up a separate email account that you only use on that computer in order to safely have correspondence with shelters and other plans to get yourself to safety.

One final tip, if you are the friend of someone you think is in an abusive relationship, please do not tag them in social media accounts.  In fact, do not post any information about them without their permission. Doing so many put them in danger.

**Use Microsoft Edge if you are visiting The National Domestic Violence Hotline or www.thehotline.org  because there is a safety feature built in that is only available on this page.  If you are using Edge and are on their website and suddenly need to leave it for safety reasons you can hit the Escape key twice and the Edge search engine will delete the page you’re on and take you to a blank Google search page.  That way, no one can press the back button to find out what your previous page was.  Hitting the Escape key twice on any other Operating System like Chrome or FireFox will take you out to a blank Google search page, but it won’t delete the previous page so anyone could hit the back button and find out what page you were on.  When you go to their website the National Domestic Violence Hotline has a warning message about how to use the feature if it is needed but a reminder that it only works correctly on the Microsoft Edge system.