Saatchi creates shielded site for Women’s Refuge

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Women’s Refuge have partnered with Saatchi & Saatchi and some of New Zealand’s leading organisations to create The Shielded Site – a place where people who experience family violence can feel safe to seek help without alerting abusers that may be monitoring their online movements.

They are launching the site ahead of the Christmas holiday season, when family violence rates in New Zealand are expected to spike.

New Zealand has the worst family violence rates in the developed world with one in three women experiencing abuse at some stage in their lifetime. In addition to the escalating rates, the methods used to perpetrate violence are also evolving, which means there is an increasing need for organisations like Women’s Refuge to advance the ways that they support victims.

While technology can be a powerful tool for victims of domestic violence to ask for help, get information and stay in touch with support networks; in an increasingly digitally connected society, technology has also extended the reach of abusers.

GPS enters the fray
Women’s Refuge says is increasingly seeing abusers use a phone’s GPS location to track their victims, obtain their victim’s email or banking passwords, even checking their web browser history to monitor them.

This means that it is now harder than ever for those looking for help and information to reach out and find it safely.

The Shielded Site is an expandable iFrame that can sit on any host website and contains vital information a victim can use to ask for help, keep themselves safe, or plan for a future free from violence. The site itself never appears in a user’s browser history, adding a level of safety while they access the information they need.

By appearing on multiple sites across the internet the application is intended to be a discreet tool for a user to find information, in the form of a smaller viewport and without the need to directly visit The Women’s Refuge website. It also allows businesses to display their support for victims of domestic violence.

ASB, Warehouse, Sorted, Z among supporters
ASB Bank, The Warehouse, Sorted, Z Energy and Saatchi & Saatchi are amongst the first New Zealand organisations and websites to support the initiative by adding the tab to their site.

The Shielded Site will be hosted by ASB Bank so users can feel safe in the knowledge that they are in a secure environment. Contact details receive through the site are sent directly to Women’s Refuge securely and without being stored. ASB has also committed to sponsoring the ongoing hosting of the site, meaning that any business or website in New Zealand can safely and accessibly add the tab to their site.

ASB general manager digital Fiona Colgan says ASB is proud to support the Shielded Site initiative with the tab on its website, and to provide site hosting to enable other companies to join.

“This is a positive initiative and we are delighted to get behind it,” she said. “If we can help even one woman to reach out in a safe way to get support, it’s been a success.

“We encourage more New Zealand businesses to join us and create a place of refuge on their websites. To truly make this effective, the Shielded Site needs to be everywhere, and in the places people would visit in the course of a typical day.”

18 months in development
The Shielded Site has been in development over the past 18 months as Women’s Refuge worked with Saatchi to find a robust way to safely reach people online. Earlier this year, they launched a beta version with The Warehouse, who have since been helping to test and refine the design.

Dr Ang Jury, ceo of Women’s Refuge says: “On average, just over 500 people a month look for advice and help through our website. The most dangerous time in a relationship is when a victim is planning on leaving, or immediately after they’ve left; so being able to assist people to do this discretely and safely will mean more people can access help and information.”

“Coming into the Christmas period, we know the numbers for family violence will increase dramatically. Last year over the holiday period (15 December to 15 Jan uary), over 6000 women and children across Aotearoa needed our services.

“If you are, or think you might be experiencing abuse in your relationship and being monitored online, look for the logo on any of the partnering business’ site to launch a shielded version of the Women’s Refuge site.

“We’d like to thank The Warehouse, ASB and our other launch partners for helping us get this initiative off the ground. We hope others will follow their lead and add the tab to their site, making more places of refuge. Our ultimate goal is for every website in New Zealand to contain a Shielded Site.”

More about the Shielded Site
The Shielded Site is an expandable iFrame that can sit on any host website and contains all the vital information a victim needs to ask for help, protect themselves online, keep themselves safe or plan a future free from violence. The site itself never appears in a user’s browser history, keeping them safe from a controlling partner and allowing them to get the information they need.

The Shielded Site appears as an icon on a partner's website – like a badge of support for those suffering from domestic abuse. The tab won’t interfere with the site’s functionality and in its dormant state is quite innocuous. When a victim clicks on it, a small window overlay containing The Shielded Site (a slimmed down version of our most critical contact and safety information for those suffering from abuse) will appear. The site can then be closed just as easily – without affecting activity on the host site.

If you are a victim of abuse wanting to access the Shielded Site – look for the icon on one of our partners’ websites. Accessing the site this way will not show up in your browser history. If you are a business or organisation wanting to add the tab to your site visit (please note this site will show up in your browser history).

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