To reduce the spread of COVID-19, Governments have now put in place regulations requiring people to remain in their homes (except for those with a reasonable excuse), but for many, home is not a safe space. Today we want to talk about a popular question: How is Covid-19 affecting Domestic Violence?
For those living separated under the one roof or yet to separate with an intimate partner in a relationship of domestic and family violence, lawyers need to be aware of best practice methods for communicating with our clients who may be at risk.
There are benefits and risks of communications with technology and a need to prioritise access and privacy. Technology now is more important than ever to help obtain instructions, facilitate court events and communicate information for all our clients but especially those experiencing or at risk of intimate partner violence. However, technology is also a tool that perpetrators routinely use to maintain control over their victims.
Being aware of the personal safety of those we communicate with online, by video web based platforms, SMS or email is important. Communication by text, email or online chat leaves a trail that could reveal a person is seeking assistance from a lawyer. For example, many video conferencing software generate log files of all calls.
It is important also to be aware of the potential for disclosure of private and personal information by SMS and email. The security of a video conferencing platform is only as secure as the platform itself and the computer or device being used to access the platform.
For tips on how to remove digital histories and keep devices secure, please see our earlier blog here: How to Protect Your Client Or Yourself From Cyber Stalking.
Frontline domestic violence workers across Australia are already reporting increased client numbers as Public Health Orders for people to stay at home take effect. As of 3 April 2020, Women’s Safety NSW reported from their frontline women’s domestic violence workers across New South Wales:
If you are experiencing family violence and need legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Watts McCray Lawyers where you can reach out to us through our website at or call (02) 9635 4266.
**To take advantage of every minute during your consultation, we recommend completing our intake form which tells us more about your current situation. This way, we have a good idea of what you are dealing with before you even arrive, and we can develop a plan of action to discuss with yourself during our first meeting. Click here to submit a form. If you have particular requirements in how we can contact you safely please let us know in the form or when you contact us.**
You can delete your browser history and delete any cookies after viewing this page and completing the form – for information on how to do this depending on what browser you are using – see here: Stay Safe Online
There are resources available here to assist those delivering services to victims of intimate partner violence to ensure best practice and client safety.
Tech Safety – Resources for DFV Agencies wanting to use technology
Tech Safety – Communicating with survivors using video
E-Safety Commissioner – Online safety for domestic and family violence workers
Cornell Tech’s – CETA has provided in-person tech assistance to intimate partner violence survivors whose abusers are monitoring their phones and online accounts, and has now developed a system for offering such advice remotely — while avoiding alerting the abuser that the survivor is seeking help.