Networks of Care: Tech Abuse Advocates' Digital Security Practices

Authors: 

Julia Slupska, University of Oxford; Angelika Strohmayer, Northumbria University

Abstract: 

As technology becomes an enabler of relationship abuse and coercive control, advocates who support survivors develop digital security practices to counter this. Existing research on technology-related abuse has primarily focused on describing the dynamics of abuse and developing solutions for this problem; we extend this literature by focusing on the security practices of advocates working "on the ground", i.e. in domestic violence shelters and other support services. We present findings from 26 semi-structured interviews and a data walkthrough workshop in which advocates described how they support survivors. We identified a variety of intertwined emotional and technical support practices, including establishing trust, safety planning, empowerment, demystification, supporting evidence collection and making referrals. By building relationships with other services and stakeholders, advocates also develop networks of care throughout society to create more supportive environments for survivors. Using critical and feminist theories, we see advocates as sources of crucial technical expertise to reduce this kind of violence in the future. Security and privacy researchers can build on and develop these networks of care by employing participatory methods and expanding threat modelling to account for interpersonal harms like coercive control and structural forms of discrimination such as misogyny and racism.

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BibTeX
@inproceedings {279942,
title = {Networks of Care: Tech Abuse Advocates{\textquoteright} Digital Security Practices},
booktitle = {31st USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 22)},
year = {2022},
address = {Boston, MA},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity22/presentation/slupska-networks},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,
}