Name a problem, and someone, somewhere, is developing a digital solution.
Technology is a double edged sword; it can be hazardous, irritating and relentless, but it can also unleash immeasurable creativity and help to provide solutions for age old problems. Importantly for us, at the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre and media co-op, technology is helping us to put power back in the hands of women who have experienced abuse, and changing the landscape for stalking victim-survivors in Scotland.
The experience of being stalked is difficult to imagine, unless you’ve been through it. Stalking is not a one-off; most of the time it is many incidents taking place over a long period of time. And most commonly it's a man stalking his ex-partner. Some incidents can seem relatively minor to outsiders - your ex turning up at the same food shop as you, or walking past your hairdressers. But the reality of having your every move watched, your messages monitored and a constant feeling of fear and alarm can cause serious trauma and distress.
One of the reasons stalking can be so difficult to record is because it really can take place at any time, in any place; recording a pattern of behaviour can be tough. But you usually have your phone with you. Developed with the input of victim-survivors of stalking, the App is a user-friendly mobile app we’re creating that will support women to store information about stalking incidents securely, regardless of whether or not they want to report to the police. We want to make it as easy as possible for women to make a log of what is happening to them to prevent incidents being forgotten, confused and merged. The App will be intuitive and accessible, allowing incidents to be recorded through a written log, supported by video content, photos, and screenshots.
The idea for the App came from the Rape Crisis Scotland helpline. Women who used the helpline told us how difficult it is to track individual incidents when the experience of being stalked is constant.
Technology - friend or foe - is the future and it’s important that as organisations dedicated to supporting survivors we’re ahead of the curve. There’s still some way to go before the App is rolled out and ready for action across Scotland, for now we’re working hard with designers, survivors and local women’s groups to make sure that it is the best resource that it can be.