As a speaker and facilitator, I know all too well the importance of using technology to meet people where they are. Today’s world is electronic. Historically, access to computers and other such devices were limited to those of higher socioeconomic classes. Times have changed and many people hold the equivalent of a computer in the palm of their hands. In light of this, organizations (for profit and non-profit) are reaching to meet the needs of their clients online. All organizations. In the same way that Nike needs to reach their clientele, so do domestic violence and sexual assault centers. That people have more access to the internet is good news for victims of violence. Why? Because a considerable number of resources are now available to those who previously had limited, or no, access. Two domestic violence agencies recently took this opportunity and ran with it.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has partnered with Theresa’s Fund to launch DomesticShelters.org, an online database that allows victims to locate the nearest domestic violence shelter in a matter of seconds using their desktop, smartphone or tablet. The site includes information on almost all 3000 domestic violence shelters in the U.S.A. Recognizing that language barriers often prevent many victims from getting help, DomesticShelters.org provides information on which centers provide services in various languages.
DomesticShelters.org also provides education and safety tools to visitors in the form of articles on topics ranging from domestic violence in the military to marital rape and the infamous question of, “Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?” The site additionally provides information on online forums and message boards to help survivors connect to other survivors.
I tested the site and found it to be very user friendly. Results were populated in seconds—time that could be the difference between life and death when a victim needs help. Keeping safety in mind, the site has a “Leave Site” button that allows victims to quickly change the webpage they are viewing in the event they are interrupted while visiting the site. There is even a tutorial video on how to use the site.
As an advocate, I am excited about the ways in which this tool can be useful for victims of domestic violence.
As a survivor, I am grateful that The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Theresa’s Fund recognized the need for this database and worked to create a solution.