PHILADELPHIA –- A grant from the Avon Foundation will allow researchers at the University of Pennsylvania to take an in-depth look at how the Internet plays a role in preventing violence against women.
Susan B. Sorenson, director of the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence in Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, will lead a team in examining how domestic-violence programs and rape-crisis centers across the country reach out to their audiences online.
The study is entitled Beyond Brochures: Internet Use by Agencies Addressing Violence Against Women.
Sorenson and a team of three doctoral students from Social Policy & Practice and Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication will study how agencies use the Internet and social-media venues like Facebook and Twitter to share information and communicate with victims, donors and the general public. They will analyze Web-site content, visual appeal, placement and social-media presence.
“Of particular importance to agencies serving abused and assaulted women is the knowledge that Internet use can be and is monitored by abusers as a way to control and limit access to information and social supports,” Sorenson said.
Sharing the findings from Beyond Brochures with practitioners and advocates is a key component of the project; researchers say the results will be directly relevant to agencies’ practices.
Sorenson and her team expect to finish the analysis by June 2013.