For more tech-savvy DV survivors

Susan Finch reports in The Times-Picayune about how the DV victims are being advised to take precautions electronically.

For women who manage to escape from violent relationships, staying safe means knowing how to keep from becoming victims of high-tech stalking at the hands of the tormentors they left behind, an official of the National Network to End Domestic Violence said here Wednesday.

“We want tech-savvy survivors,” said NNEDV technology chief Cindy Southworth, in town for a national conference to teach law enforcement and social service professionals how to gather proof that abusers are using cell phones, e-mail and locator devices to follow their victims. They’re also getting pointers about helping domestic abuse victims avoid such tracking and safely use technology without leaving “electronic footprints.”

According to Southworth, domestic violence victims should take steps to separate themselves from their abusers, electronically as well as physically.

When it comes to the Internet, she said, those steps should include:

Using computers at a library or one that belongs to a friend, instead of a machine shared with the abuser.

Creating a new e-mail account in a name that the abuser doesn’t know. That practice should be followed in setting up any new accounts, so that the abuser can’t access the information.

Avoiding e-mails with attachments that, if opened, could relay her email information to her abuser.

Victims of domestic violence should also quit using cell phones that are part of a family plan shared with their abusers, Southworth said.

The danger of using shared phones, she said, is that abusers can get records of the victim’s calls and, without her knowledge, have a locator feature installed to monitor her whereabouts.

Southworth’s advice to these women is, “Get a new phone,” preferably one that has a global positioning chip, which would allow police to find her immediately if she calls 911.