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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN A DIGITALLY CONNECTED WORLD
This blog is dedicated, among other things, to exploring the intersection of health and social media. It swings its angle around different perspectives: from marketing to professional awareness of technology to the healthcare implications of the very existence of social media in our lives.
So I’m going to use this platform to talk about and raise questions about domestic violence in a world that is increasingly being overtaken by social media.
To that end, here’s video on some of the challenges raised by domestic violence in the age of social media. [If you don’t see the video below, you can view it here.]
Domestic Violence. What a strange combination of words: there’s nothing domestic about violence. And yet, it’s one that we’re familiar with.
Or are we? Do we fully appreciate the expansiveness, depth and consequences of Domestic Violence?
For Social Media has opened wide the gates of communication and connection and sharing.
You see, not everybody is in exactly the same position as everyone else when it comes to social media – its use and its access.
A newly diagnosed cancer patient is in an entirely different situation from a woman whose husband or boyfriend abuses her. The former doesn’t have to worry about a husband who stalks her every move; implants spyware on her computer; and threatens to kill her if she tells anybody else what’s going on.
A tweet, or a check-in, could be as effectively dangerous as a bullet.
Violence isn’t just a physical act: its a violation, one which ranges from subtle manipulation to implicit threatening and emotional terrorizing to murder.
And therein lies the peculiar challenges of domestic violence and social media. If social media is – as is claimed – Social, then there are specific social ramifications to be considered in the context of domestic violence.
On one hand, victims of domestic violence need support and resources and the information needed to acquire them.
On the other, abusers often go to any length to control their victims. Their insecurity with themselves is so deep – so out of their own control – that they seek control and security in the emotional and visceral pain of others.
So what does a victim do when the abuser dominates so much that social media isn’t much of a safe option?
Remember: often these victims are so terrorized, that even anonymity isn’t an option.
There’s a lot of talk about Empowered or Engaged patients. But if you think about it, victims of domestic violence are Un-Empowered and Dis-Engaged – not because they don’t want to be empowered or engaged per se, but rather because their freedom is violated by abusive behavior.
This is one more reason why healthcare professionals need to receive the training to sense for signs and symptoms of abuse and know how to appropriate assess and address.
I think this is a uniquely important problem which demands much more attention and focus than it receives currently.
And when it comes to social media, there are quite complicated issues which we need to consider.
The United States Declaration of Independence asserts our rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
We are all, to some degree, denied those rights as long as domestic violence transpires on our soil – or anywhere else in the world for that matter. It’s not a civilization if it’s not civil. If it’s not a civilization, it’s not a Republic.
QUESTIONS FOR READERS
Who is doing this kind of research?
Are we doing enough?
What are the best resources for domestic violence?
Who else is there?
What are your thoughts? How can we best balance the need for victims’ access to support and resources online while ensuring they’re safe?
Again, if you’d like to watch the video Domestic Violence and Social Media, you can view it here.
UPDATE: Additional resources per comments and Twitter:
PS: On the video, there are a couple of points which I repeat. I could have edited them out, but decided to leave them. I think they are worth repeating.