Why technology is a ‘blessing and a curse’ for domestic violence organizations

Published May 12, 2023


Maria Rodriguez

Maria Rodriguez.

Congratulations to Maria Rodriguez, PhD, assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, on the publication of her paper, “Technology is a ‘Blessing and a Curse’: The Perceived Risks and Benefits of Digital Technology Adoption at Domestic Violence Organizations that Serve Teens,” in the Journal of Technology and Human Services

Heather L. Storer, PhD, associate professor in the University of Louisville's Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work and Family Science, led the study with co-authors Carol Scott, PhD ’19, research fellow, University of Michigan; Rodriguez; and Eva Nyerges, doctoral student, University of Louisville.


Despite the promise of digital technologies to strengthen social work practice, like many other social service organizations, service providers at domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA) organizations have yet to fully embrace their use in their work.

Our study explores teen dating violence (TDV) service providers’ perceptions of both the benefits and the risks of using digital technologies in their service delivery system. We conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with TDV staff at agencies throughout the United States (N = 35). Findings suggest service providers are actively negotiating the ways technology can nurture their clients’ safety or perpetuate harm, including exacerbating the digital divide. DV service providers contend that while technology can be lifesaving, important considerations must address associated harms.

Graphic of network.

This research contributes to one of the Grand Challenges for Social Work tackling our nation's toughest social problems: Harness technology for social good.