I love technology. Always have. Since I was little, if it had buttons and lit up, I was hooked. Do you remember the handheld game Merlin that came out in the late ‘70s? I had one! Technology has come a long way since then.
Back in 1994, my husband and I got our first desktop PC. It had four megabytes of ram. Megabytes! My current laptop has sixteen gigabytes of ram. My old 2.4GHz black and white security cameras were replaced with HD internet security cameras with cloud recording. I have an app controlled TV, light, and vacuum cleaner. I can hold multiple Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, and tons of books in the palm of my hand on my iPod touch. While all this new technology is great, it can come with risks that need to be weighed. For example, Alexa and Siri are cool and convenient, but I don’t use them because of privacy concerns. Using them is more trusting of big corporations and their employees than I want to be.
Technology: Good and Bad
Like most things, modern technology can be used in good ways or bad ways. The internet, for example, is used to keep in touch with family and friends, share on social media, learn about countless topics, and do business. With the internet, ministries can reach people all over the world with sound teachings from the word of God. But technology can also be used badly. In the early years of the internet, I heard a pastor repeatedly warn against using it. He did not think we should go online. He wasn’t all wrong. There are temptations and dangers that come with it. Due to the sinfulness of man, technology does have a dark side.
The Dark Use of Technology in Intimate Partner Violence
One significant danger that comes with modern technology is that it can be used to harm others. The possibilities to do harm seem endless. Because of this, we need to be mindful of our safety and privacy no matter what technology we use, whether it is the internet, smart phones, or smart devices in our homes.
This is especially true for victims of domestic abuse and dating abuse. There are a myriad of issues to deal with in those situations, and now there is the added issue of dealing with modern technology and how much it is intertwined with our daily lives. Modern technology’s existence makes it possible to do harm in whole new ways. It can be used to control and harass. A short list of methods include sending abusive texts, harassing online, spying via internet browser history, reading private messages and emails, tracking location by phone, posting (or threatening to post) sexually explicit images or video without consent (revenge porn), and nefariously manipulating smart devices. Whether you live with your abusive partner or not, it is important to get informed about how modern technology can be used and take steps to better protect yourself.
The internet presented me with new safety and privacy concerns that I did not have to worry about previously. My concerns stemmed from not wanting to be found by an ex-boyfriend who had attempted to take my life. The internet together with social media can be great tools for reuniting long lost friends and family, but they can also be used to locate others. So due to my safety and privacy concerns, I avoided Facebook for years after it launched. I did not want be easily found because of an innocent interaction between a friend of a friend. Though I did know if someone really wanted to find someone they probably could. The story about my ex-boyfriend has more details than I need to go into; but suffice to say, the experience left me with some post-traumatic stress.
In time, I did decide to make an account. I probably wouldn’t have except I wanted to create a Facebook page for Chapter 3 Ministries. This website contains my name and picture, and that was a safety decision too. My decision to start this online ministry and use social media was prayerfully made with the encouragement of my husband that it was safe. Because time had passed and for a few other reasons, I could see that the risk had faded; and it was a risk I was willing to take for this ministry. God is in control, and I serve in that knowledge. But I’m still careful with my privacy. I want to use technology safely. We all need to.
Take Action: Safety and Privacy Tips
The danger from that past relationship has hopefully passed. For others, the danger continues. In my continuing desire to do whatever I can to help, I am sharing the article Safe Connectivity Tips for Domestic Violence Victims by Kirsten Akens on Reviews.com. It contains information about how technology can be used in abusive relationships to do harm and how technology can be used to help keep you safer. There are safety and privacy tips and links to more resources. The article can help you to safely manage technology and make you aware of things you may never even have thought of. It’s a good place to start if you are dealing with this issue in your life or know someone who is. Please read it from a safe device if that is a concern. Go through the article carefully and implement whatever makes sense for your situation. If you know someone who would benefit by it, please pass it on. Also, if you are in need of further help, please see the additional resources below.
Here are the headings from the article:
● Understanding the Technology Around You
● Use Tech to Your Benefit
● Secure Your Home
● Incorporating Smart Tech Into Your Home and Life
● Know You’re Not Alone
● If You Are In Danger
Please keep in mind that the above article and the following resources are not from Christian sources, and therefore do not offer Biblical counsel. However, there is still helpful information in them. In the links below you might come across the idea that some aspects of Christianity, like the headship of husbands, is automatically detrimental. This can be weighed in light of the good advice and support they give.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) When you visit, a safety alert will come up stating “Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear” – meaning someone in your personal life could possibly see where you have been surfing. If you are on a safe device, click ok and continue.
loveisrespect.org When you visit, the same safely alert as above will appear. Loveisrespect is a project of the NDVH. Its focus is preventing and ending dating abuse.