Harnessing Technology to Help Victims of Abuse

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Harnessing Technology to Help Victims of Abuse

Jack McArtney on the importance of technology training for advocates that help domestic violence survivors
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Important work on using tech to end #domesticviolence and abuse. @NNEDV #SafetyNet #ToTv10. http://bit.ly/PNIAxU @VZJackmAck

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Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 1:30pm

CAMPAIGN: Domestic Violence Awareness


Jack McArtney is Director of Corporate and Community Responsibility for Verizon. He works with parents, educators, service providers, application developers and industry leaders to foster responsible use of Verizon's mobile and broadband networks.

Last Monday I spoke at a conference for the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Their Safety Net “Training of Trainers” event marks its 10th year, so I was happy to join the celebration – and I brought a robot to help. 

Safety Net does great work providing education on technology abuse and online safety, particularly to people who help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

NNEDV’s Safety Net believes that as the use of technology grows, its use among abusers grows too. So through Safety Net, the NNEDV helps victims and their advocates learn to use technology as well. When domestic abuse survivors spoke at the conference, it was clear that this kind of work remains essential.

“The Safety Net Project at NNEDV and the entire movement saved my life,” said one survivor. “My abuser used technology to advance his abusive behavior, and the Safety Net team helped me hide my tracks and stay safe from a tech-savvy stalker.”

At Verizon, we strive to build safety into every aspect of our phones, but concerns like this – hiding your tracks from a potential abuser – can be easy to overlook. So for years we’ve asked the NNEDV to look at our products and policies through the lens of a domestic violence victim. That perspective has had a material impact on our product design and guidelines.

Since this was a tech-savvy audience, I brought along my friend VGo the robot to show off the kind of innovative technology we are working with at Verizon. Developed with support from the Verizon Innovation Centers, the VGo relays the sights and sounds of both its environment and the person controlling it, allowing for conversations as it rolls through a remote location. As part of a pilot project, the Verizon Foundation will test it places such as museums, hospitals and classrooms to see how it might be used best. Think virtual field trips, or helping a sick kid attend class from home.

I told the group of some of the work we’ve done on domestic violence prevention: our longstanding HopeLine program, which turns no-longer-used wireless devices into support for victims, our Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Program in New York State, which helps domestic violence survivors start their own businesses, and the way we leverage our TV, mobile and web platforms to maximize the impact of our public service announcement campaigns. I could have talked about more, like our newly launched HopeLine mobile app for Android, but time ran short. There’s always next year. If I can’t get there in person, maybe they’ll let me attend through the VGo instead.

Keywords: Social Impact & Volunteering | Innovation & Technology | Jack McArtney | NNEDV | National Network to End Domestic Violence | SafetyNet | Social Impact & Volunteering | Training the Trainers

CAMPAIGN: Domestic Violence Awareness