digital safety

Getting Digital to End Abuse

In light of the recent tragedies that occurred in Steubenville, Ohio, and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, it’s easy to feel like tech and social media is causing more problems than inspiring good.

While there have been examples of the two being used to harm, we’re also seeing social media and technology being used to prevent and spread awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault. Today, we’re taking a look at empowering apps, websites and projects that are changing the way we see abuse.

Apps Against Abuse

In 2011, Vice President Joe Biden launched the Apps Against Abuse challenge, calling on innovators to make mobile apps to prevent dating violence and abuse. Among the winning apps was Circle of 6, which uses texting to contact friends and employs GPS to tell them where you are. A new version has even been developed specifically for India, taking into account cultural differences, language and in-country resources.


Catcallers are called out publically with Hollaback!, which lets anyone who has experienced street harassment share their stories, images and videos on an interactive map that documents where the incident took place. With both web and mobile apps, this nonprofit is taking the streets by storm in 64 cities and 22 countries. They hope to soon have the capability to allow users to report directly to the NYC government.

Project Unbreakable

Featured on an episode of “Law & Order SVU” in which a campus quad of hundreds of students held up posters with quotes from their attackers, Project Unbreakable is an image-based project that has spread all over the country thanks to the power of the web. It began on Tumblr and has been named one of the Top 30 Tumblr blogs by TIME Magazine. The woman behind the project, Grace Brown, photographs survivors of sexual assault holding a poster with a quote from their attacker. She has taken images of over 400 people for this “art of healing” viral project.


While a hashtag can be co-opted to victim blame and spread hateful messages (such as Torrington, CT’s #FreeEdgar), it can also be a powerful social media tool to begin dialogues on a global scale. In 2012 a blogger from London Feminist sparked a Twitter movement with the hashtag #Ididnotreport. She expected it to be limited to users tweeting about what she described as “low level harassment” but people everywhere began using it, especially in relation to serious sexual assaults. The hashtag opened up discussion and built an instant community of people with similar experiences, while highlighting the vast problem of underreporting and the many reasons people don’t report.

loveisrespect online chat and texting service

The loveisrespect online chat and texting service allows teens to talk about their relationship directly to a peer advocate whenever and wherever they want. This lets young people communicate in what can sometimes be a more comfortable and safer manner than in person or on the phone. The loveisrespect text service was the first in the country of its kind, and the service was actually launched by a text message from Vice President Joe Biden himself. Visit to use the online chat, or text “loveis” to 22522 to message an advocate today.

Have you heard of any other organizations that are using social media and technology in the fight against domestic violence and sexual abuse? Sound off in the comments — we’d love to learn about them.

5 replies
  1. natoria says:

    Look I’m in a abuseve relationship I’m so tired of being called all kind of names i can’t sleep at nite I’m tired I’m so tired i don’t know what to do

    • HotlineAdmin_MB says:


      I’m sorry to hear that you are being hurt verbally. You can call an advocate at The National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 for guidance and support, to go over options, and to safety plan. Thank you for reaching out through our blog community.


  2. HotlineAdmin_MB says:

    A reminder to our blog community,

    We are thankful that you all are reading, posting, and encouraging on our Share Your Voice Blog. Please be mindful that everyone’s experience in an abusive relationship is different and what might have worked for you, may not work for others.

    You can view our community guidelines here:

    Thanks again for reading and sharing.

  3. Katie says:

    My fiancé has been abusive a few times in the past but this time Is the worst. I got my children out safety but I’ve only got limited cash and now what do we do. What about the long term? I don’t know but anything Is better than where we were.

    • HotlineAdmin_RF says:

      Hi Katie,
      Thank you so much for reaching out to our blog community. Your story is a courageous one, it took amazing strength in order to do what you have already and I can see in your words that you are wanting to continue pushing and seeking options for yourself and your children outside of the relationship. Finances can be a tough spot, especially if your partner was controlling that aspect of the relationship, but there may be options available to you in the form of local and national programs. A lot of programs out there are able to offer financial support for things like food, shelter, clothing and the things you may need to care for yourself and your kids.
      You’ve taken such huge steps for your safety, know that we are always here to help you seek out more options and brainstorm next steps with you. We are available 24 hours and completely anonymous and confidential through our hotline at 800-799-7233. We also have the ability to chat through our website. Please feel free to get in touch with us any time.
      Take Care.
      Hotline Advocate RF

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