This Women’s Refuge Launched a Hidden, Untrackable Site for Women Experiencing Abuse

When anonymity is life-saving

Headshot of Angela Natividad

The Internet has become an unapologetically open place, one that drives its tentacles through everything we touch in an effort to unite it all—making us visible, traceable, easier to access.

But not everything we’re doing should be seen, even by those we’re closest to.

According to the New Zealand Women’s Refuge, today it’s easier for abusers to obtain victims’ emails or passwords, use mobile GPS to stalk or find them, and—the old classic—monitor their browser histories. This makes it harder for those seeking help or resources to find it safely, or reach out at all.

So alongside Saatchi & Saatchi, the Women’s Refuge has created “The Shielded Site.” Set to launch before the holidays (when family violence rates spike dramatically in the country), this expandable iframe can sit on any innocuous host website while availing resources to victims, including how to stay safe, plan your escape or ask for help.

The site never appears in browser histories, meaning you don’t have to worry about scrubbing your cache or getting caught unawares.

For those who aren’t sure whether their case is abusive, the Women’s Refuge has provided helpful stats: 64 percent of women seeking its help suffer from psychological abuse, 49 percent physical abuse, 23 percent financial abuse, 21 percent harassment and stalking, 12 percent sexual abuse, and 11 percent abuse with weapons. 

In 24 percent of cases, a child witnessed or heard it happening.

One in three (35.4 percent) partnered New Zealand women report having experienced physical or sexual partner abuse in their lifetimes. When you add psychological or emotional abuse, that figure jumps to 55 percent.

Participating organizations for The Shielded Site include ASB Bank, The Warehouse, Sorted and Z Energy, all of which, in addition to Saatchi & Saatchi, will add the tab to their sites.

“This is a positive initiative, and we are delighted to get behind it. If we can help even one woman to reach out in a safe way to get support, it’s been a success,” says ASB Bank general manager Fiona Colgan.

“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.”

Here’s where you can add the Shielded Site to your site.

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.