Eleven Ways Tech Is Preventing And Reducing Domestic Violence
We have all been devastated by the pandemic — psychologically, financially and socially. The list goes on. For a portion of us, the pandemic posed an additional trauma — “intimate terror” as some call it. Domestic violence increased substantially during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a survivor of domestic abuse from my childhood days, I can imagine only too well how terrorizing it must be to be locked down with an abuser for months. It would be the equivalent of living in a constant real-life thriller, where you do not know what’s going to happen to you or your children at any moment.
On a somewhat uplifting note, technology and AI enable us to help domestic abuse victims in many effective and creative ways. Each of these exemplary projects and solutions deserves a separate blog post to raise awareness and help them scale globally. For now, I’ll share some of them below and hope to expand on a few in my upcoming articles.
If you have goals to build similar tools to stop domestic violence, bring them on. We need tech and AI to help solve this devastating problem at scale and with pace.
1. Crowdsourcing Data
Crowdsourcing is a powerful way to understand domestic violence and sexual harassment, as well as for triggering policy-making and institutional change. Crowdsourcing sites such as #StopFemicides, HarassMap and Hollaback! are not only raising awareness of the scale and seriousness of this issue, but they are also bringing the much-needed transparency required to accelerate change by calling on governments and policymakers to take action. On a related note, I must add my gratitude and appreciation for Soma Sara, who founded Everyone’s Invited and triggered an exemplary “cleansing” initiative at the national level in the U.K. on the topic of sexual harassment.
2. Using AI To Predict Trends, Prevent Domestic Abuse And Alert Police
On an equally exciting level, various AI and NLP tools have been developed to spot domestic violence and online harassment trends during Covid-19. Tools such as artificial intelligence can help protect victims of domestic violence, identifying patterns during lockdown to enable subject matter experts, local authorities and police forces to predict potential domestic violence cases and enable prevention or timely action.
3. Safety Through Apps And SMS-Based Services
There are numerous safety apps and SMS-based services that can educate users about domestic violence and help them in times of need. Kitestring, Circle of 6, Watch Over Me, Safetipin and Saahas are a few examples worldwide.
4. Helplines And Hotlines With AI-Powered Chatbots And Virtual Agents
In addition to phone lines, chatbots and personal agents are being implemented to address increased call volumes. Microsoft Philanthropies’ Swansea Council Domestic Abuse Hub is a great example that can easily be replicated within other government institutions and domestic abuse charities.
5. E-Governments And Safety Tools
Technology has bridged gaps in data, documentation, reporting and policy and has provided faster, more efficient tools for victims during the lockdown. Some examples of great e-governing include King County’s e-filing for domestic violence victims and UK’s new laws aimed at protecting victims added to the Domestic Abuse Bill.
6. Wearable Tech
7. Social Media Campaigns
The scale and agility of various social media campaigns have initiated impactful changes in our institutions and communities. I am sure many of you will remember at least some if not all of these campaigns: #StopFemicides, #RedMyLips, #YesAllWomen, #EverydaySexism, #WhyIStayed, #MasculinitySoFragile, #NotBuyingIt and #RapeCultureIsWhen.
8. Responsible Design
Responsible design ensures vulnerable groups are not at risk from using these tools. For example, you can look to IBM’s design principles developed to combat domestic abuse and 17-year-old Krystyna Paszko’s fake cosmetics online shop that offers a lifeline to victims trapped in their homes.
9. Education Through Gaming
Games such as Hannah can be a creative way of educating youth about domestic violence.
10. Pro Bono CSR Programs
Several firms, such as Microsoft and Vodafone, have kicked off remote pro bono services to help domestic abuse victims. At Microsoft, volunteers from the company’s legal teams offer remote pro bono legal support.
#11 NGOs, Social Impact VCs, and Grants
There are numerous (but not enough!) NGOs, social impact VCs and grantors that support the innovative use of technology to help prevent domestic abuse. Some global examples are Refuge, The Gender Security Project, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, flyingbroom.org, the Sunflower Women Association, the Seguro Project, When Georgia Smiled and the Turkey Mozaik Foundation’s Gender Equality Fund. These fantastic efforts deserve not only global scale visibility and awareness, but also funding and volunteer support.
Again, if you know of more initiatives or have other ideas on how to stop domestic violence, bring them on. For those who would like to develop solutions for this devastating problem, following the typical product design process — which normally involves problem diagnosis, identifying target users and their needs, prioritizing user requirements, building out a feature set and product roadmap, preparing an MVP (minimum viable product) and developing product architecture mockups — will not be enough. Given the inherent privacy sensitivities and user safety risks surrounding this problem, setting up the right metrics for success, following responsible design principles and measuring viability and usability risks will be crucial.
Let’s join forces — whether that’s our volunteer time or resources — to help these outstanding solutions and initiatives grow their reach and impact, as well as build new ones.
#domesticviolence #domesticabuse #emotionalabuse #loveshouldnthurt