Helping abuse survivors beat loneliness

In 2017, with the generous support of the Clothworkers’ Livery Fund, we started a project to help survivors of domestic abuse overcome loneliness. We have been gifting tablet computers to domestic abuse refuges and the people they help.

How do computers help?

Donate - a survivor of domestic abuse learns to use her new WaveLength tablet

Most of us rely on the Internet to find a lot of our information. But for survivors of abuse, having access to online information is especially important. Some refuges have told us that this access can make the difference between a survivor escaping, or returning to their abuser.

The tablets are being used to help survivors:

1. Prepare to escape their abuser;

Some refuges are using the tablets in outreach sessions to support victims who are still living with their abusers. Some abusers don’t let their victims use the Internet at all, or insist on supervising them when they do. Others check Internet histories to see what their victims have been using the Internet for.  The tablets help them to make preparations to escape, without their abuser being able to check up on their actions.

“Some women have never used any form of IT equipment, so having a tablet can teach them how to use the internet to access a wealth of information.” – Hull Women’s Aid

Survivors - a young woman in a WA refuge uses a new WaveLength tablet computer

2. While they are in the refuge;

Survivors who have left their abuser can access communal tablets in the refuge. When survivors escape, they might not be able to take anything with them. And even if they can take a phone or tablet, it might not be safe to keep it. Sometimes abusers place tracking devices in them, so having access to a “clean” device can be safer than keeping an old one.

“Many women arrive with nothing, only the clothes they were wearing when they escaped. Some have had to come from far away for their safety and left their friends and family behind.” – Birmingham Women’s Aid

In the refuges, children use tablets to do their homework, and feel more at home in unfamiliar surroundings. Adults use them to apply for jobs or accommodation. And they are used by everyone to stay in touch with family and friends left behind. The tablets are a lifeline that connects them to the world.

Survivors - refuge quote

“It is giving them back control of their ability to do things for themselves.”

3. When they leave the refuge to live independently.

The refuges gift tablets to survivors to take with them as they move out of the refuge and into their new homes. The survivors often have very few, if any, personal possessions after they escape, and many face financial difficulties as they move into independence. Having access to a tablet offers them additional support as they begin their new lives.

“Moving a woman from her neighbourhood can lead to feelings of increased isolation. Children may have to leave their school or local clubs to remain safe, so they too may be further isolated” – South Lanarkshire Women’s Aid

What do the survivors say?

Survivors - a refuge worker holds up a new WaveLength tabletWe have had some wonderful feedback from survivors who are already benefiting from the project. Here are some of our favourites:

“Wow! What a wonderful gift. I am so thankful to receive your generous gift. We all know the future is the technology, everything we do is online, so when I’m looking for work, emailing CV’s, shopping, online banking and even when looking for great, cheap nutritious meals. I’m so very grateful to have this. It’s going to be a big part of my daily life.”

“This is for me…really? I’ve never been given anything like this before – thank you so much!”

“I am feeling wonderful. Thank you! I cannot express in words how much this tablet will help me and my boys. I miss my old tablet that I had to leave behind. The boys did ask if I could replace it but I simply couldn’t afford one. Thank you again.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!”

A referee holding the tablets destined for survivors of domestic abuse

YOU can help

This project was set up with the generous support of the Clothworkers’ Livery Fund, who kindly donated £33,000 for this work. To find out more about the impact of this project, please click here to read our report. Now we are reaching the end of this project, we are keen to raise money for future work. If you would like to help, please donate to WaveLength today. Thank you.