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Technology changes the face of domestic violence
Of people over the age of 18, 3.4 million are stalked each year in the United States, and persons aged 18-24 years experience the highest rate of stalking according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. Technology gives abusers a new way to reach their victims, but their motives remain the same; to intimidate and harass their partner.
One in four victims report being stalked though the use of some form of technology according to the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence. This is why it’s unsurprising that stalking is most prevalent on college campuses because students have access to lots of technologies.
Look around any large college lecture hall and you’ll see students taking notes on their computer. But that’s probably not all their doing. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace give students the ability to acquire personal information about their friends, classmates and co-workers. These sites, along with texting and Blackberry messaging (BBMing) allow for rapid communication, even when the technology is being abused.
“You don’t have to do it [stalking] face to face. It’s different than standing outside someone’s window. You can do it pretty much anywhere, whether you’re in class or at home or at the library you can stalk somebody without actually having to follow somebody around,” said Director of Victim’s Assistance at CU Boulder Davian Gagne.
The biggest misconception about domestic violence is that only a certain type of person is involved in it. More often than not, it happens in young couples who are becoming involved in their first serious relationship and don’t know how to be intimate.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month. To find out more about stalking check out the National Center for Victims of Crime fact sheet on stalking.
Electronic Frontier Foundation’s tips for keeping your personal information, private:
° Check your settings on your social networking site page and make sure only people you have confirmed can see your page.
° Do not reply to spammers.
° Be wary of sites that offer a reward or prize in exchange for your contact information or other personal details.
° Realize your computer may be monitored at work.
° Use a separate e-mail address when blogging, posting to news groups, participating in chat rooms and participating in other public spheres on the Internet.
° Remember that you decide what information to reveal and to whom.