Mobile Phones For Survivors Of Domestic Abuse
We all know how important our mobile phones are to us, we use them to function in our everyday lives. A client said to us the other day: ‘Not having a mobile phone is like losing my right arm’. During Covid-19 lockdown we had an opportunity to ask an amazing woman called Hayley Wareham to look at the issues around women being controlled by their perpetrators through their phones.
This triggered her to start a campaign to get phones for women in refuge. Getting a new phone or sim card in lockdown was pretty impossible, but Hayley took on this task.
Through this campaign she linked up with a gentleman from ‘Redhill and Reigate Round Table’ who seized the opportunity to help support RBWA.
Phones can be used as a method of control. A perpetrator could buy their partner a phone so they can watch who they talk to and where they are going. Initially when a woman is offered a phone, she believes this is a kind and generous gesture.
Once the woman has the phone the perpetrator expects them to answer the phone every time he rings, and the woman feels obliged to answer as he bought it for her!
Women often come to us and say: ‘He always knows where I am, and I don’t know how he knows’! Perpetrators can track the phone using social media or tracking apps.
He will want to know the passwords to get into the phone so that he can check messages and all social media. Woman have told us that they had to take videos or photographs of themselves in places to prove they are where they say they are. The perpetrator has the victim under digital control.
If the phone is in his name, he will have the phone statement sent to him so he can check the call list and see who she has been contacting.
This can start an argument, the perpetrator will take the phone back and believes he can do this whenever he wants, because the phone is his! When the phone has been taken, she will lose contact with the outside world. Her phone could be the only way she can connect with anyone else. This isolated the victim and makes them feel more vulnerable.
In some cases there is any evidence on the phone (i.e. text messages, photographs, videos) so the Police will want to take the it to download the evidence and this can take quite a long time, especially if there is a pending trial.
Our Women need a phone so that they can stay in contact with safe family and friends, apply for benefits, setup new email address, banking, getting to know the new local area, the list is exhaustive. So, it’s imperative they have a phone to start their new life.
We have given out some of the phones donated and one woman said: ‘This has given me peace of mind knowing I can’t be tracked or contacted anymore’.
Without the support from Hayley Wareham and the gentleman at Reigate and Redhill Round Table we would not have been able to help these women feel as safe as they do now.
RBWA just want to say a great big THANK YOU.