Study Points

Digital Technology and Domestic Violence

Course #67493 -

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  • Participation Instructions
    • Review the course material online or in print.
    • Complete the course evaluation.
    • Review your Transcript to view and print your Certificate of Completion. Your date of completion will be the date (Pacific Time) the course was electronically submitted for credit, with no exceptions. Partial credit is not available.
  1. Which of the following is an example of financial/economic abuse?



    Physical AbusePsychologic AggressionSexual AbuseFinancial/Economic Abuse
    Kicking, punching, biting, slapping, strangling, choking, restraining, abandoning in unsafe places, burning with cigarettes, throwing acid, beating with fists, throwing objects, refusing to help when sick, stabbing, shootingIntimidation, verbal abuse, humiliation, put-downs, ridiculing, control of victim's movement, stalking, threats, threatening to hurt victim's family and children, social isolation, ignoring needs or complaints, online stalking, accessing intimate partner's social media accounts or email without permissionRape, forms of sexual assault such as forced masturbation, oral sex, sexual humiliation, groping, refusal to use contraceptives, coerced abortions, posting sexually explicit pictures of an intimate partner online, secretly recording sexual encounters, texting private sexual mediaWithholding of money, refusing to allow victim to open bank account, placing all property in perpetrator's name, not allowing victim to work
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  2. Unlike emotional abuse, psychologic abuse consists of behaviors meant to


    Studies show that there appear to be two major patterns of domestic violence [2]. The first is a more severe type of abuse that encompasses multiple and various forms of abusive behaviors. In this classification, the abuse and violence escalates and the perpetrator increasingly attempts to control, monitor, and intimidate the victim. The second is a more moderate form of abuse whereby physical violence is occasionally perpetrated [2]. Some domestic violence victims do not experience any physical or sexual abuse for many years; rather, they regularly experience non-physical forms of abuse, such as emotional, psychologic, social, and economic abuse [4]. The terms emotional and psychologic abuse are often used interchangeably; however, they are distinct entities [4]. Emotional abuse consists of behaviors that are meant to gradually deteriorate the victim's dignity, self-respect, and self-worth. These behaviors might involve insults, put-downs, name-calling, and public humiliation. On the other hand, psychologic abuse is meant to gradually diminish a victim's rational perceptions, to make one feel "crazy." The underlying intention in all types of abuse is power and control [4]. Although there is no consensus operational definition for the term "coercive control," most agree that it can exist without the use of physical or sexual violence. Continual monitoring and surveillance, mind games, and low-level threats can serve as an effective means for the perpetrator to control the victim [17,38]. Rather, previous incidences of partner violence can result in the victim feeling threatened and intimidated [17,51]. Jealousy, controlling behaviors, and threatening and sexually coercive behaviors result in a continual sense of fear and isolation in victims [38]. Understanding these dynamics provides a context in how technology can be used by perpetrators to reinforce power and control.

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  3. Which of the following statements regarding cell phone use among adolescents is TRUE?


    Texting remains the most commonly used feature on the smartphone. The majority of people who own a smartphone (97%) have texted at least once [62]. On a monthly basis, some estimate that individuals 18 to 24 years of age receive about 2,000 texts monthly [79]. In general, adolescents are the largest consumers of text messaging on cell phones, and a Pew Internet survey showed that 38% of teens texted friends on a daily basis in 2008; this increased to 54% by 2009 [14]. As of 2015, 90% of teens with phones text every day [15]. Adolescents (14 to 17 years of age) who text frequently send and receive 30 to more than 100 texts daily [14,15]. These texts are not only sent via telephones' text feature, but are shared through messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, WhatsApp, or Telegram. In 2014, 88% of adolescents 13 to 17 years of age had their own cell phones or access to cell phones [15]. About 95% of teens with mobile web access go online at least once per day and about 25% say they are "constantly online."

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  4. Which of the following is NOT an example of cyberharassment?


    Cyberstalking is a term coined to describe using computers or electronic communications to harass and intimidate. Harassers might use the following electronic communication methods to harass their victims [26,68,86]:

    • Flooding the victim's e-mail box with e-mails so as to disrupt the ability to receive incoming e-mails

    • Sending intimidating e-mail, texts, or instant messages

    • Monitoring the victim's computer communications through the use of software programs such as spyware or keystroke logging programs

    • Taking on the victim's identity to send false messages or to purchase goods on the Internet

    • Using the Internet to obtain personal information about the victim

    • Impersonating the victim through e-mail and social networking sites

    • Sending unwanted sexual photos and/or videos to the victim

    • Distributing sexual photos and/or videos of the victim without her/his consent

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  5. Which of the following is a social networking site?


    Social networking is a form of online communication that is comprised of "web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system" [27]. As noted, examples of social networking sites include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.

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  6. Spyware is


    With increasingly sophisticated and easily accessible software, hardware, and spyware programs, which are typically marketed for parents to monitor their children's Internet activity, abusers have additional tools to monitor and control victims' online activities. For example, abusers can install spyware (also referred to as malware or stalkware) on victims' computers and gain the ability to take screenshots of the computer, record passwords and personal identification codes, track websites visited, and record incoming and outgoing e-mails, text messages, and chats [30,58,70,88]. Whenever the computer is used, e-mails reporting the computer activity are then sent to the abuser [26,28]. Other abusers have used keystroke loggers, a hardware device that is plugged into the keyboard and the computer and records everything typed, including e-mails, passwords, and URLs [28].

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  7. Which of the following is a type of direct online service that may be useful for domestic violence victims and survivors?


    Although this course focuses on increasing practitioners' awareness of how technology can be used by abusers to harm victims of domestic violence, it is important to briefly review how the Internet and other forms of electronic technology have positively changed the landscape of the counseling, social service, mental health, and health arenas, particularly for victims of violence. In a study exploring how Internet technology was used by domestic violence organizations, seven types of direct online services were identified [37]:

    • Online assessments of violent relationships

    • Education targeted to survivors

    • Information and referrals for domestic violence victims and survivors

    • Direct e-mail services

    • Online monitored chatrooms

    • Online support groups

    • Art and stories shared by survivors

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  8. Being able to easily retrieve information and communicate with practitioners using multiple communication vehicles can promote patient/client


    Empowerment is a recurrent theme in the use of technology by domestic violence victims. First, victims are able to easily access information. Being able to easily retrieve information and communicate with practitioners using multiple communication vehicles can promote patient/client autonomy, increasing victims' sense of confidence, self-efficacy, and empowerment in terms of making decisions that promote their well-being and safety. For example, all 50 states have a domestic violence coalition, with a website for the public to access information about domestic violence, resources, shelters, and safety planning. Victims of intimate partner violence can also research information about restraining orders, shelters, and employment opportunities [35]. In a study by the Technology Safety Project of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a project designed to promote awareness of how technology can increase the risk of domestic violence, participants indicated that the Internet was an important tool when researching strategies to promote safety, allowing victims to play an active role in their own care [21,39,91]. Internet technology has also been used to provide education regarding general life skills for domestic violence victims, such as job training, money management, and practical survival skills. Victims have reported using the Internet to help search for housing, obtain assistance in creating a résumé, and enhance their skills in order to get a job [21]. Internet technology may also be used to help raise awareness about domestic violence and to educate the public about intimate partner violence, how to obtain services, and how to protect oneself [71,91].

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  9. Which of the following is NOT a necessary precaution when educating domestic violence victims and survivors regarding technologic safety?


    Many domestic violence organizations disseminate a message of fear in their communications about Internet safety [41]. Although fear can initially invoke safety behaviors, fear tactics tend to actually prevent the behavior that one is trying to promote over time. In other words, while a low amount of fear may not trigger any safety behaviors because individuals do not perceive the threat as real, employing a tremendous amount of fear in education and communications can also prove ineffective if individuals perceive there are no viable options to mitigate the fear. In these cases, victims may merely suppress the fear and not engage in any safety behavior [41]. As a result, practitioners must strike a balance in providing both education and support. The following precautions can promote technologic safety for victims and survivors of intimate partner violence [42,43,44,70,93]:

    • Practitioners should encourage victims to Google themselves to see what personal information is available online.

    • If a perpetrator is harassing the victim by cell phone, the practitioner should discuss with the victim potential reactions and responses the abuser may have to changing the phone number. Would this enrage the perpetrator and place the victim in further danger? If the same number is retained, should the phone company be contacted to track calls? If the victim eventually decides to take legal action, having an archive of text and voice messages could be beneficial.

    • Practitioners should recommend that victims check account and privacy settings on social networking sites and ensure that the information on their profiles is private. Security settings may need to be adjusted. Explain to patients/clients how personal information posted about activities and schedules can be used by the abuser.

    • Practitioners can review information about how to block contacts in social media.

    • It is easy to believe computers and online accounts are secure when they are not. Victims should be reminded that their computers and phones are not secure. Using a public computer (e.g., at a library) is a safer option than accessing information from a personal computer or cell phone.

    • Practitioners should recommend that victims clear browser histories, temporary Internet files from downloads, and saved passwords on online accounts every time they use a computer.

    • Victims should be encouraged to keep their accounts password-protected.

    • Victims should change their passwords and identification numbers frequently and avoid selecting passwords or numbers that perpetrators could easily guess (e.g., important dates, nicknames, relatives' names).

    • Victims should be advised to always log out of e-mail, social network accounts, and other personal accounts when not in use.

    • E-mail addresses should be similarly anonymous. If an e-mail address contains names or other common terms to the victim, the perpetrator will be more likely to figure it out.

    • Victims may also be encouraged to set up multiple e-mail accounts. Incoming and outgoing e-mails that the victim does not necessarily want the abuser to see can be sent from one specific account accessed only from a public computer. Free e-mail accounts can be established through a variety of online hosts.

    • When working with victims to make an escape plan, consider obtaining a donated cell phone for the victim to use instead of a personal one. An abuser can easily access personal phone records to view incoming and outgoing calls, potentially determining when and where the victim is planning to leave.

    • Victims should be encouraged to look into their health records, as many are electronically based. There are no guarantees about privacy and security.

    • Education should be provided to victims detailing how software programs can be used to monitor computer activities. If a victim suspects such a program being used, he or she should not attempt to research the software or attempt to remove it, as this could be dangerous.

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  10. The Violence Against Women Act


    Practitioners should also familiarize themselves with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA, enacted in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000, 2005, 2013, and 2021, was the first federal legislation that addressed domestic violence and other forms of violence against women. Since the first enactment, the legislation has been updated to touch on relevant issues such as privacy, the role of the Internet, and cyberstalking. Before anyone or any court can obtain private information, agencies funded by VAWA must make every reasonable effort to obtain permission and releases from victims [49]. Furthermore, VAWA restricts the online publication of filings for orders of protection as this could place victims at risk for discovery by perpetrators [49]. The 2005 reauthorization of VAWA updated stalking laws to reflect the use of Internet and electronic communications for the purposes of monitoring and harassing [49]. The 2013 reauthorization helped to ensure that services are available to persons of all sexual/gender identities, all races/ethnicities, college students, young adults, and immigrants [29]. Finally, the 2021 reauthorization provides additional funding for culturally specific services, housing services such as federally assisted housing for victims, and access to unemployment insurance [94].

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  • Back to Course Home
  • Participation Instructions
    • Review the course material online or in print.
    • Complete the course evaluation.
    • Review your Transcript to view and print your Certificate of Completion. Your date of completion will be the date (Pacific Time) the course was electronically submitted for credit, with no exceptions. Partial credit is not available.