Chapter 1: Introduction
The goal of this toolkit is to provide practical guidance and resources for people who are interested in starting and sustaining a technology abuse clinic that provides services and assistance to survivors experiencing technology abuse. The contents of this guide are based on the authors’ experiences establishing and running several such technology abuse clinics, namely the Technology Enabled Coercive Control (TECC) clinic in Seattle and the Clinic to End Tech Abuse (CETA) in New York City, both started in 2018. An affiliate from CETA later established the Madison Tech Clinic, in a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Madison-based advocacy agency, DAIS.
These clinics operate independently, each taking somewhat different approaches to assist survivors who are experiencing technology abuse. This guide aims to bridge these efforts, distilling for readers the overlapping components and core insights gained as we strive towards the common goal of increasing resources for survivors experiencing technology abuse.
The following chapters provide guidance on what we consider to be the essential (as well as optional) components of technology abuse clinics, steps to take when establishing a clinic, and examples of processes/procedures that we have found successful while operating a clinic. We note that the approaches, procedures, and services described here have undergone many iterations over the years that build on numerous lessons learned from operating technology abuse clinics, including significant changes in response to the logistical challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2021.
The advice and recommendations provided in this guide are not intended to be prescriptive. There are undoubtedly numerous ways to create a technology abuse clinic and the information provided here is inherently limited by our own communities, geographies, and subjective experiences. Readers are therefore encouraged to view the guidance and examples as a starting point and adapt the content to their communities and locales as needed.
Finally, we note that this toolkit is written from the perspective of clinics serving survivors of intimate partner violence. We actively encourage others to explore service provision in the context of other forms of interpersonal abuse (e.g.: elder abuse, human trafficking). However, we are only equipped to speak to our experiences in intimate partner violence advocacy, and we have written the toolkit accordingly. Nonetheless, we believe that many of the tools and resources can be carefully adapted for use with other populations by considering the unique risks or differing severity of concern in other populations that we have not investigated.