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Technology shield developed to help women report abuse without a trace in browser history

Women’s Refuge says technology is increasingly being used as a way to control women in abusive relationships, so it has found a way for it to it help victims.

Image: Screengrab / RNZ

On the websites of many New Zealand companies women can now access information about the services offered by Women’s Refuge via a web page which will leave no trace in the browser history.

Women’s Refuge’s chief executive Ang Jury said abusers often exerted control over all of a woman’s activities and would check on things like who they had rung, text messages and which websites they had visited.

She said the Shielded system offered a discreet way for women to get advice about the services the Women’s Refuge offers.

“When people click on the little icon, it takes them to some basic information about how to keep safe, how to seek help, and gives a contact email form if they want to contact us by email,” Dr Jury said.

The page also provides information about how to keep your web history private on other sites if you suspect you are being monitored.

The Shielded icon is a small image of a computer with half the screen shaded.

Dr Ang Jury, chief executive of Women’s Refuge Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The link is available on the websites of The Warehouse, Trade Me, ASB and others.

Dr Jury said the site was hosted by ASB and had been operating for almost two years. She said she hoped they would be able to offer the service long-term.

She said the holiday period could be a busy time for those who offered help to people in abusive relationships.

“It’s not necessarily in the couple of days before and after Christmas, but the later part between Christmas and New Year… when people are partying most, people are spending most, becoming aware of their spending, spending time together that they don’t normally do.”

She said her advice to anyone who saw domestic violence was that if they saw something or heard something that they knew was not okay, don’t turn a blind eye.

“If something feels like its not right, intervene. There are lots of people out there that can help.”