Woman looking at cameraI once lived with a man who when enraged would punch and kick me. I was once drugged and sexually assaulted by a man I thought I knew.  Both violent experiences left me with physical and emotional scars.

I never dreamed I would get involved with men who would eventually abuse me. I worked hard, I held high profile positions, I was an on air journalist and a newspaper columnist who expressed my opinions openly and freely in any forum, male-dominated or not.

I was raised by a resilient mother and in a mostly matriarchal environment. Strong older women were ever present as I grew from a child into a teenager and became a woman.  I viewed myself as free and capable of being who I wanted to be, just like any man. Despite all that I became a victim of men’s violence and countless attempts by my abusers to isolate, dominate and subjugate me.

Foolishly as a young woman I thought domestic violence was a relic of the 19th century.  Sadly I had to accept that it wasn’t; that men’s violence against women would wreak havoc and take the lives of hundreds of thousands throughout the 20th century and continue its despicable, often sick and sickening ride into the 21st.

Today I am free of my abusers. I was able to escape them both. The first I accomplished with the help of a family member. We planned and executed my escape while my abuser was away on business.  With regards to the second, I found the courage years later to tell him, “I no longer know you, and you no longer know me,” after friends forced him to call me to apologize. He was a dangerous man and I felt this was the best way to deal with the situation.

My experience with domestic violence made me acutely aware of how important it is that women in abusive relationships are able to plan and execute a safe get away. Without privacy an abused woman would have no way out. If she can’t use her phone without her husband or partner listening in, can’t drive anywhere because GPS is tracking her every move, can’t email friends who can help because her husband or partner accesses her emails, can’t get to a bank account without her husband knowing; the outcome can and has been demonstrated time and time again to be lethal, not only for women but in some instances for children.

I wrote this post to add my voice to the voices of women survivors of abuse.  I also hope it will encourage women to start a conversation about the privacy challenges invasive technologies now pose and what can be done to protect the vulnerable.  The tools now available to facilitate violence against women are more sophisticated than ever.

I wish you and this remarkable Foundation continued health.

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