This toolkit provides tools for people who support women who have experienced Gender-Based Violence. The project is based on discussions with staff and clients about how digital technology impacted people seeking services. You can access the full report, a community of practices, links and resources, and training modules within this toolkit. 

In The Toolkit

A green banner with a graphic paper airplane for Learning Modules
The toolkit provides courses on using technology and resources for providing support services to women for Gender-Based Violence.
A green banner with a graphic paper airplane for Resources
The toolkit provides curated resources for staff to use in their work or to share with clients.
A green banner with a graphic paper airplane for Community of Practice
Templates and sample policies and practices for use in your organization.
If you are alone and remote and you have a bunch of guilt you are going to burn out. You need the time to take a difficult call and walk away after. We are doing the work because we want to do this work. We need to be empowered to self-care.
- Quote from Support Staff Interview


The final report identified four key findings. Review a summary of each finding by clicking on the area below. All findings are discussed in detail in the full report.

Client Access

Client access to support services can be made both easier and harder through digital technology.

The use of digital technology changed how service providers deliver support services and how clients expect to receive them. Staff and clients both said that clients want more choice and options when seek support.

Using digital technology for support services creates new challenges and risks for women accessing or attempting to access support.

Staff shared concerns about the safety and privacy of clients when they were accessing support services from their homes, this included unsafe home environments for both clients and children as well as clients being able to see into staff homes.

Online support is much more complicated for both clients and staff.

Online support is much more complicated for both clients and staff. Technical issues, access to phones, computers and the Internet, as well as issues with privacy and safety planning are new concerns for staff.

For some clients, offering services online was a lifeline. This was especially true for women with disabilities, childcare needs and mobility concerns. 

Digital Divide

A digital divide exists between those who have technology and those who do not.

A digital divide exists between those with technology, including mobile phones, tablets, computers and Internet access, and those without. The digital divide means that some women are not able to easily and safely get the services they need

Giving away devices like tablets and cell phones did not mean that clients had more access to services.

Some clients who were given devices felt that other people needed them more or didn't have Internet in the areas they were located, this was especially true in remote and rural areas.

Clients given devices and/or Internet access didn't always know how to use the technology given to them. This often left clients frustrated and distrustful.

Best Practices

Clients and staff need to feel they have privacy and security when getting and giving online services.

Clients were fearful that their privacy was not protected online which could mean they don't continue with support services or participate less than they would have in group programs. Clients who were reassured of their privacy and security said they were more likely to seek services. 

Many clients have been tracked using cell phones, pictures and other digital data.

Even when they thought they were being safe. With easy access to small digital trackers, staff and clients need to be more careful about digital tracking.

Best practices and policies are needed across individual service providers.

Staff need clear and consistent help on what to do when things don't seem right or they have concerns when providing online support services.

Staff Resources

More tools and training are needed.

Staff said they needed more tools and training to use technology, software and devices. They often felt that they didn't have everything they needed to provide the best possible services.

Offering support services online often needs more staff to run safely and effectively.

When technology is not working well, staff must help clients with cameras and microphones while still running sessions. If programs run screening into online sessions, additional staff are needed.

Staff said they often felt like they didn't have enough knowledge of digital tools. When helping clients work computers, cameras, and microphones they said they didn't feel like they knew enough or had anyone to ask questions.

Not all staff have sufficient space or equipment.

Many staff shared concerns about their workspaces or equipment that they had. In some cases, the organization didn't supply devices or only had older devices for staff to use. Some staff found it very difficult to provide confidential services when they shared living space.

Staff have limited ability to connect with other staff.

Staff feel they have a limited ability and opportunity to share information and discuss concerns with other staff. This was a big concern when they experienced secondary trauma and did not have support systems to help them.


This project arose from awareness created by the American court case of Mary Lindsay, whose court proceedings on Zoom in 2021 ended abruptly when it was made clear that the perpetrator was in the same home while she was testifying against him on domestic violence charges . The video of the case made headlines, during which one can see Mary looking nervously off to the side as she hesitates to recount the events of a domestic violence incident. This situation raised concerns that had not previously existed for service providers prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent widespread adoption of digital technologies in the provision of support services. NYWC submitted a proposal to Women and Gender Equality Canada to develop and distribute practical tools to mitigate the safety, security and privacy risks inherent in the digitization of support services as organizations adapt to a new landscape in supporting women who have experienced GBV.


This project has been funded through Women and Gender Equality Canada's Women's Program.

This toolkit is developed and maintained by North York Women's Centre.