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Guide to online safety launched

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women's aid, facebook, guide, online safety, domestic abuse, The guide is free and can be viewed or downloaded easily.

Women’s Aid, the UK’s national domestic abuse charity, and international social media platform Facebook have launched a guide to help women to stay safe online.

The guide, put together by Women’s Aid and Facebook, provides advice to help women and girls understand the risks they may face online and the tools they need to protect themselves and make sure they can stay safe on social media.

It has a lot of helpful tips – from how to report something that is abusive, to stopping an intimate, private or sexual image from being shared online.

The aim is to help women take greater control of their own safety on Facebook, while staying connected to the people and causes they care about.

The guide, which is free and can be viewed or downloaded easily, is specifically designed to provide information and advice to survivors of domestic abuse.

In most cases domestic abuse is perpetrated by a partner or ex-partner – but it can also be from a family member or carer.

In the vast majority of cases domestic abuse is experienced by women and perpetrated by men.

Domestic abuse includes emotional, physical, sexual and financial forms of abuse, as well as stalking, harassment and coercive control. Any woman, regardless of her age, race, religion, sexuality or disability, can be a victim.

And although the online world should be open and safe for everyone to use, many women experience domestic abuse online.

Perpetrators do not only need to live with or find a victim ‘in the real world’, but can abuse, harass and stalk them online too.

For example, abusive partners and ex-partners frequently use social media to humiliate and threaten their victims, hack into their emails and accounts, and even use spyware to track them down.

Perpetrators of domestic abuse often use Facebook to abuse partners or ex-partners, monitor their movements, and share intimate photos or videos of them without their consent. This abusive behaviour is unacceptable, and against Facebook’s rules (Community Standards).

And although many survivors are already experts at managing their own risk and safety, Women’s Aid and Facebook have brought together some specific steps they can take to protect themselves online too, if they need to.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Online abuse can be just as harmful and disturbing as abuse perpetrated in person, so we’re delighted that Facebook is working with us to tackle this issue.

“We hope the practical advice in this guide will help women feel safe and confident using social media.

“We want to ensure survivors experiencing online forms of abuse, coercion and control know that they can get help and support from Women’s Aid and Facebook.”

Caroline Millin, from safety policy programmes at Facebook, said: “We know that perpetrators of domestic abuse can abuse partners or ex-partners online. This behaviour is unacceptable and against Facebook’s Community Standards.”

You can view or download the guide here.

If you or a friend are experiencing domestic abuse you can find support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from the Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge) on 0808 2000 247 or by emailing helpline[at]womensaid.org.uk

In an emergency, or if you feel threatened, call the police on 999.

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