Digital Literacy Against Digital Violence

Yesterday was the culmination of a year of work for me (and more than that for the project team) with the National Forum for the Prevention of Cyber Sexual Assault. We unveiled the handbook we created in our Preventing Digital Violence Committee, “Digital Literacy Against Digital Violence: A Handbook for Academic Library Workers“. The Handbook is a free and open-source resource for academic library workers on what we, as academic librarians, can do to help prevent digital violence on our campuses. During the presentation, we talked through the beginning of the project, how it progressed, and then introduced the Handbook to our audience in detail, and finally wrapped up with some of our plans going forward at our individual universities.

The Handbook is divided into three parts, the What, Who, and How sections. These three sections give background on what digital violence is, who we can partner with in our campuses to do this work, and some resources (including lesson plans) for how to use digital literacy education in preventing digital violence. The entire handbook was constructed using trauma-informed principles and survivor-centered language, and was peer-reviewed by over 40 experts in the field of violence prevention. I personally only worked on the What section, helping to craft bibliographies and shared vocabulary on what Digital Violence is and what causes it. The whole handbook is chock full of information and tools though that I am excited to share with the world, and excited to use at UF if I can.

As an abuse survivor I am acutely conscious of the harm that any kind of abuse can cause, and I’ve been watching the digital abuse happen over and over in the online communities where I have found friends and community. It is particularly bad in fandom spaces, and also in online queer spaces where intra-community fighting can often take on an ugly edge. These experiences drew me to engage in this work when the opportunity of the Forum came along to give me something concrete to do besides speaking up against it in my own communities. But I don’t think you have to have experienced any of this to have a vested interest in combating Digital Violence. Anyone can engage in this work, and I hope libraries can inspire others to take up the fight to make the internet safer for everyone.

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