Tech vs Abuse initiative gets underway

Using tech to help those affected by domestic abuse

Technology can be a powerful instrument in tackling violent behaviour and domestic abuse. It can enable individuals to recognise that what they are experiencing is abuse, help them find support, and exit harmful relationships.

Unfortunately, technology can also be used as a tool for control and coercion by perpetrators. Comic Relief have been committed to supporting women and girls at risk of violence for over 20 years. In 2016 we commissioned research that looked into the potential opportunities for technology to support work in this sector.

The findings resulted in a funding initiative called Tech vs Abuse. This initiative launched in January 2017 and was funded jointly through the Tampon Tax Fund, a partnership between Comic Relief and HM Government, and the Big Lottery Fund. 

From the research we identified five design challenges. To find out more about these design challenges, read more here.

Tech vs Abuse applicants were asked to respond to these design challenges by identifying specific problems which needed solving and could be addressed through digital solutions. Comic Relief have since made ten grants which use a range of different solutions.

The grants will last for one year and in addition to receiving financial support, grantees will work closely with the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST), who are providing specialist technical support and on-going mentoring. 

Here's some more information on the five design challenges identified and the grants made: 

1. Fifteen minute window
Hestia will undertake the second stage of development of its app, ‘Bright Sky’, which supports victims of abuse to helping them understand their situation and quickly find support from key services. 
 

2. Effective real-time support services
The Chinese Information and Advice Centre is developing a real-time digital platform for commercial sex workers from the Chinese community, enabling them to access immediate advice anonymously. 

3. Safer digital-footprint
SafeLives is designing a radical new package of support, including a toolkit and free training, for all practitioners working with victims of abuse. Practioners include service providers, police, and health visitors. 

Refuge will be improving IMPACT, their cloud-based management tool, to include tech abuse risk assessments and provide training to front line staff.

4. Accessible legal and financial information
The Cithrah Foundation is developing a tool that will enable women to easily and safely document instances of abuse that can then be used as evidence in legal proceedings.

Rape Crisis Scotland is developing an incident reporting app that will help victims of stalking record incidents to help them build a legal case against their perpetrator. 

The Chinese Information and Advice Centre is developing a real-time digital platform for commercial sex workers from the Chinese community, enabling them to access immediate advice anonymously.

3. Safer digital-footprint
SafeLives is designing a radical new package of support, including a toolkit and free training, for all practitioners working with victims of abuse. Practioners include service providers, police, and health visitors. 

Refuge will be improving IMPACT, their cloud-based management tool, to include tech abuse risk assessments and provide training to front line staff. 

4. Accessible legal and financial information
The Cithrah Foundation is developing a tool that will enable women to easily and safely document instances of abuse that can then be used as evidence in legal proceedings.

Rape Crisis Scotland is developing an incident reporting app that will help victims of stalking record incidents to help them build a legal case against their perpetrator. 

Chayn is creating an accessible and safe platform for bite-size courses on topics such as staying safe online and preparing for divorce without legal support.

5. Realising it’s abuse
Aanchal Women’s Aid is developing a web app for GPs to use with women from South Asian communities who present with signs of being in an abusive relationship.

The Mix is developing a digital tool designed to help young people determine through a series of questions if they are experiencing domestic abuse, and will then signpost them to help and support. 

The Haven Wolverhampton is developing an interactive website which helps women to establish whether they are experiencing abuse and signpost them on to appropriate support.

To find out more about the individual grants visit our tech vs abuse page.