art-abuser-and-victims and duress codes

Duress Codes and How to Use Them

Duress Codes can be an effective tool in awareness, defense, and escape

In the 1968 Star Trek episode Bread and Circuses, Captain Kirk uses duress codes when he is captured by a previously unknown civilization that modeled itself on Earth’s ancient Rome. Worse, a former Starfleet captain is leading the civilization, so he’s wary when the Enterprise hails Kirk to ask if everything is okay. Kirk replied, “Condition Green,” satisfying the former captain that no rescue would be attempted.
What the former captain didn’t realize is that “Code Green” was a pre-arranged code that actually meant “I’m in danger.”

Duress codes have been and continue to be used in fiction, real-life espionage, and even within families for ages. Reportedly, even Queen Elizabeth II had a subtle signal involving the way she was holding her handbag to signal to her staff that she wanted to leave a conversation or social situation. Basically, these “codes” are any pre-arranged message, behavior, or signal that means something to the intended receiver but won’t appear suspicious to anyone else watching. For people in an abusive household or relationship, duress codes may be one effective and safe way to summon help.

The three main characteristics of a duress code are that it needs to be pre-arranged, unlikely to be used by accident, and undetectable by anyone for whom the message isn’t intended.  

Duress Codes should be pre-arranged

The message is coordinated between the survivor and their support system and only to those they absolutely trust to help. The survivor and their support system then agree on one or more codes and their meanings. The code should be something that makes sense to be used without standing out as unusual.

They should be unlikely to be used by accident

Duress codes should be unique enough to avoid false positives- that is, accidentally using the code word when there’s not actually an emergency. This can be a challenge because the code, when trying to choose something the survivor will believably share, say, or do without being common enough that it might be used inadvertently.

Duress Codes should be undetectable by anyone the message isn’t intended for

A duress code is essential in cases where the abuser is strictly controlling or monitoring the survivor’s actions, online accounts, and conversations. It should be assumed that the abuser is going to see the code, and it’s critical they are unable to recognize it as one.

A duress code can be anything the survivor and their support system agrees on, and they can have as many codes as they can manage and as they need. Some examples may include:

– “If I post a picture of a flower, please check on me.”

– “If I mention in a text that the network went down at work, call the police.”

– “If I wear this necklace, I need help immediately.”

– “If I click ‘like’ on your profile picture, I’m in trouble and need you to pick me up.”

Or anything else that’s pre-arranged, unlikely to be used by accident, and undetectable by the abuser. It’s important to define not only what the code is but also exactly what needs to be done when it’s used.

The empowerment and security that comes from having a well-thought-out safety plan, including using duress codes, cannot be overstated. These codes are more than just secret signals; they are a bridge to safety for those who might find themselves in perilous situations, providing a discreet way to ask for help without alerting potential threats. Remember, you’re not alone in navigating these challenges. Organizations like Operation Safe Escape are here to support you, offering guidance, resources, and assistance in developing effective safety strategies tailored to your unique circumstances. Safety is a fundamental right, and through collaboration, preparation, and the use of tools like duress codes, we can work together to protect that right for everyone. If you or someone you know needs help in crafting a safety plan or understanding the use of duress codes, please reach out. Together, we can create a network of support that empowers individuals to live safely and confidently in any situation.

If you need assistance creating a duress code, Operation Safe Escape is here to help.

More about Duress Codes:


Kraden Blog

International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO)


OPSEC History and OSE

New facts emerge from the NSA’s previously Top Secret history of OPSEC.

Operation Safe Escape - You are not aloneMost people don’t know the full history of Operation Safe Escape. Until 2016, Operation Safe Escape was a project under the Operations Security Professional’s Association or OSPA. At that time, the organization was the largest non-profit organization in the world dedicated to teaching people about Operations Security (OPSEC) and how to use it to protect themselves, their businesses, and more. Over time, the anti-domestic violence mission became more important and the organization’s core focus, now referred to as OSE.

Introduction to OPSEC’s Evolution

OPSEC, or Operations Security, remains a key aspect of our mission to protect survivors of domestic violence, stalking and harassment, and human trafficking. Far from its original application of protecting military missions and plans, OPSEC today can help protect an individual’s plans to escape abuse or other circumstances. For that reason, in a practical sense, OSE is the successor for many of the OPSEC organizations that came before. Consistent with the OSE mission, this report is a historical analysis of the roots of OPSEC and is not an endorsement of any aspect of the Vietnam War or any other military application.

For context, the term “Purple Dragon” refers to the code name for the survey team in Vietnam. As a historical aside, the code name was originally intended to be temporary, so the team chose the name they liked best from a list of code names provided. The other options have been lost to history.

In 1993, the National Security Agency (NSA) released a report titled “Purple Dragon: The Origin and Development of the United States OPSEC Program,” which described the unusually high American losses in the high altitude bombing missions code-named Arc Light and Rolling Thunder, and the reconnaissance missions under Blue Thunder, and discussed the intelligence failures that led to them as well as the measures taken as a response. The process developed at the time later became what we call OPSEC today. In 2007, a heavily redacted version of the report was released to the public under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, bringing some of the previously Top Secret history to light. However, significant portions of the documents remained redacted.

In 2018, Operation Safe Escape researchers requested a declassification review from the NSA to determine which redacted information could be released. In January 2024, we received a largely (but not entirely) unredacted version that provided additional context and historical information. This report does not attempt to summarize the entirety of the 102-page document but instead highlights some of the most surprising or compelling facts not previously made available. While the document also explores OPSEC findings related to ground and riverine operations, the findings are generally similar to the ones identified by the Air Force.

The original 2007 release can be found here:

The 2024 release can be viewed here:

It’s interesting to note that many of the original redactions were public knowledge (and some were even referenced in official government OPSEC training resources) in 2007 when the original redacted version was made available. For example, the 2007 release redacted the name of the Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral U.S. Grant Sharpe Jr., that he originally convened the Purple Dragon team, and for what purpose.

New and noteworthy information in the 2024 release include:

1. Initially, many members of the team believed the losses were due to a communications security issue. In fact, the communications security team found 50 different nonsecure communications during the survey that included specific details regarding the time of the bombing run, referred to as “time on target” (page 9). These sensitive details were transmitted over nonsecure (and, as such, able to be intercepted) between an hour and a quarter and up to 15 hours ahead of the mission. The now-unredacted section of the report notes that 228 aircraft had been shot down and 60% of Blue Springs photography drones were destroyed up to that point, and the report questions whether North Vietnamese forces had advanced knowledge that may have contributed to those losses. The following line answers this question, which was redacted in the 2007 release: yes, they did. Adversarial forces had up to three hours, sometimes up to eight hours, to prepare or evacuate the area.

2. The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed to launch a counterintelligence effort to identify and close the sources of the leaks (page 12). The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was tasked with coordinating the effort and convened two working groups- a counterintelligence (CI) working group and a communications security (COMSEC) working group. The CI working group ultimately concluded that “losses of sensitive information through enemy human intelligence (HUMINT) could not be prevented.” It made no recommendations aside from increasing ongoing, general CI activities. The COMSEC working group was convinced that the blame could be placed on individuals failing to protect sensitive information properly and that monitoring communications and transmissions could identify who and punish offenders. A plan was put in place to conduct a COMSEC survey- a new concept at the time- which the DIA approved with the condition that another team be established to examine all aspects of military operations, from planning to execution, to look for other ways they might be compromised.

3. One piece of history that was available through other sources (but was redacted in the 2007 release as “classified matters of national defense or foreign policy”) was the overall strategy for identifying information leaks and vulnerabilities (page 14). The committee ultimately decided to focus on three areas: “enemy exploitations of U.S. communications, enemy recognition of patterns and operations, and enemy access, by whatever means, to pre-execution plans and preparations for operations.” To put it another way, the committed proposed searching for insecure communications channels, patterns and indications, and anything else that might give adversarial forces access to allied plans. What wasn’t previously known was that Admiral Sharp himself elected to assume official responsibility for the survey.

4. Initially, responsibility for the survey was offered to the CINCPAC communications staff, known as J6, because no one was certain who else should manage it (page 14). However, the communications staff lacked experience in the intelligence aspect of the survey and passed ownership on to the intelligence staff, J2. But J2 wasn’t sure how to approach the survey as a concept, so it finally landed with the operations staff, J3, under the command of Colonel James Chance, J3 Deputy for Command Center and Nuclear Operations. At the time, the concept of “surveying operational effectiveness” was new to the military, but the assignment makes sense in hindsight. Although Colonel Chance’s role as direct manager of the project has been widely discussed, it deserves special mention here due to his contributions and decisions throughout.

5. Although a relatively minor historical note, the size and scope of the survey team was previously undisclosed (page 15). Teams were established at seven commands at various airbases in Japan, Thailand, Guam, and Vietnam. At each command, the number of personnel assigned ranged from a small handful of men at some bases to 39 assigned to the U.S. Military Assistance Command in Vietnam.

6. In the 2007 document, pages 17-31 were almost entirely redacted, representing nearly the entirety of the “Birth of a Dragon” section, which primarily focused on the team’s findings and observations throughout the survey. Although much of the section still remains classified, a significant amount of previously redacted information was revealed in the 2024 release. Much of the information is commonly known, but noteworthy revelations include:

In order to encourage everyone surveyed, from the lowest ranks to the commanding officers, the team agreed that the Purple Dragon survey wouldn’t be treated like a traditional inspection and that no reprimands would come from the gathered information. It was decided at that time to capture the information would be kept non-attributional
In a departure from the original COMSEC team’s plan, the goal was to address the root of the problem rather than punish those who failed to follow proper procedures. With this in mind, unit commanders were given the opportunity to fix any issues before they were reported higher.
To avoid having those interviewed from unconsciously altering their usual activities and gathering accurate information, participants were not told the nature of the survey when being interviewed or observed.

Much of the information disclosed in the document detailed the specific procedures and goals for the team. Based primarily in Pearl Harbor (partially, we learn from other sources due to travel budget limitations for the NSA members of the team), team members compiled a database of findings and evaluated the information as it unfolded. Given that the team was looking for something entirely unknown, it’s interesting to see how they approached the problem and made sense of what they discovered.

7. Even the initial recommendations proved effective (page 22). Before OPSEC as a process was formalized, the initial recommendations given on-site increased survivability and recovery rates for bombers and drones.

8. By reviewing unclassified Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) for upcoming missions, the Purple Dragon survey team was able to gauge upcoming targets and mission times with about 80% accuracy (page 22). The NOTAMs are generally made widely available with limited control to deconflict airspace and help prevent aviation accidents. It’s certain that adversarial forces had access to those reports, which detailed specific times and general locations of missions.

9. Local Vietnamese allies and officials were warning their friends and family of upcoming bombing missions to give them time to leave the area (page 24). The process for selecting and approving targets could take a week or more, and it involved approvals from multiple different commands and up to the Pentagon. This included coordination with local allies. There is no evidence that any Allied official leaked information to adversarial forces. Still, it should have been foreseen that local officials would naturally want to warn their family and friends who may be in the area. Those family and friends would warn their family and friends, and so on. The local civilian population would start evacuating the general target area one to three days before the mission, which signaled to adversarial forces that they should do the same.

10. Many Rolling Thunder missions were compromised shortly after takeoff (page 25). Early in the survey, it was estimated that up to 90% of Rolling Thunder missions were compromised to varying degrees after takeoff from Thailand or the Gulf of Tonkin, giving the adversary up to 45 minutes’ notice before a strike. Given the sophistication and resiliency of the North Vietnamese tunnel systems, this was more than enough time to shelter personnel and equipment. The Navy and Air Force would use exactly four electronic countermeasure aircraft to jam enemy radar when targeting heavily defended areas, but only two when targeting others. Simply by observing the configuration of the flights or noting the distinctive (and unchanged) call signs of the aircraft, the type of target could be determined. There were also other examples given, including the pattern that Airborne Command Post (ACP) aircraft would land at certain places and times depending on when and where the mission would take place, the fact that the Air Force and Navy would strike at specific times (the Air Force, for example, would almost invariably strike targets between 0800 and 0900, and again between 1600 and 1700) and only in good weather, that airborne refueler aircraft would use the same route and fly several minutes ahead of bombers (using the flight route and plane number as their call sign, which was sent over nonsecure voice channels), and more. Putting this all together, it became trivial to determine the timing and target of a bombing mission.

11. The Purple Dragon survey wasn’t intentionally intended to be repeated, but the survey team and agency leadership advocated for a permanent program based on their findings and the likelihood of reoccurrence (page 30). The survey was intended to be a one-off response to specific security concerns. Still, COL Chance and Admiral Sharp agreed that the survey should become a standard procedure for any military operation. The final report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff included a recommendation that the survey be expanded into an enduring capability; the Joint Chiefs agreed and authorized a permanent OPSEC branch under the CINCPAC J3. This answers a long-standing question as to where OPSEC was intended to “live” from its inception and whether it was originally viewed as a security discipline or an operational one.

While not in this document, an interesting historical side note was that the name for the new discipline was decided at a bar in Hawaii. According to Robert “Sam” Fisher (and retold by others from the team): “The next question was what to call this new organization. Our role was operations analysis, but operations analysis would not do for a name. We wanted to distinguish ourselves from the many operations analysis groups that already existed in Vietnam. One knew that Mother NSA would not allow me to be a part of this new organization unless security was among our objectives. Hence, we arrived at the name Operations Security. A side benefit to this name was the acronym OPSEC, a good way to catch people’s attention.”

12. As a mildly interesting note, the original 2007 release showed the affiliation (U.S. Navy) of the artist that drew the dragon on the cover of the final Purple Dragon report, but the new release redacts it, likely in error (page 35).

13. The first major Purple Dragon survey of a non-Air Force mission took place in 1967 when the survey team examined Navy and Marine amphibious landing missions and found multiple similarities nearly identical to the Air Force operations assessed previously (page 37). The (reasonable) requirement to coordinate landings and raids with local officials and allied forces during the early planning phases of the mission led to provincial chiefs and local villagers moving their cattle and equipment out of the area well in advance of the assault. The movement signaled to adversarial forces that “an operation of some sort was going to occur.” It was also noted that helicopters were pulled from other areas and limited in use the day before to ensure availability in support of the landing. Naval bombardment would also begin several hours before the landing, a literal “wake-up call” for those forces that hadn’t already left, and the reporters would be notified up to four days before the assault and transported by helicopter to one of the assault ships the day before. Perhaps the most significant observation was that a Navy hospital ship, which required more time to move and stage, would be anchored off the opposite side of the target beach the day before the assault. Hospital ships are distinctly marked and easily observed, giving at least an evening’s warning.

14. About a week before an amphibious landing, the Marines would send an Airspace Reservation Request to the Air Traffic Controller in Saigon, along with a formal request to keep the NOTAM secret until a few hours before the requested time (page 40). However, this request was often ignored, and the NOTAL was released immediately. This revealed the fact that a military operation was planned for a specific day at a specific time in a specific location up to a week in advance. The solution was to send the request to Saigon at the last moment and, in at least one case, not until the Marines had already landed on the beach.

15. In an interesting twist, the largest amphibious operation of the war at the time, Operation Bold Mariner, used the same OPSEC weaknesses the adversary was exploiting to mislead them (page 40). Now understanding that the adversary was looking out for certain patterns and indications, mission planners spread misinformation through those channels to convince them that the attack would take place at Mo Duc rather than the actual target, Batangan. The Marines issued a NOTAM for Mo Duc eight hours before the apparent landing time, naval gunfire targeted the decoy target on schedule, and a Naval hospital ship anchored near Mo Duc only to reposition once the actual assault had already begun.

16. The American logistics system in Vietnam was a major success when it came to moving weapons and supplies around the country, but at the same time, the process turned into an intelligence goldmine for adversaries (page 47). Supplies came into the theater through centralized supply depots in “rear” areas and were distributed by truck convoys all over the country. Coordination for convoys and road clearances was often conducted well ahead of time and often over unsecured phone lines that were frequently intercepted. Worse still, larger convoys often used the same routes at the same times and on the same days for their deliveries, which made planning ambushes relatively simple. The survey team also found that many combat units would requisition supplies for a particular operation a month or more in advance. This request, which was often processed by local civilians, would list the latest acceptable delivery date, the unit designation and location, and often even the cover name for the operation. These details would then be stenciled on the crates and left in plain view of anyone with access.

17. The initial success of OPSEC measures to protect Arc Light bombing missions was overestimated and may have been historically overreported (page 52). One of the primary metrics for the effectiveness of Arc Light OPSEC measures was the number of alerts detected by adversary forces transmitting a warning of upcoming strikes. After the measures were put in place, these transmissions had nearly stopped completely- in one six-month period, only five valid alerts were detected out of over 2,600 missions flown. Not long after, however, North Vietnamese defectors reported that the units were still being informed of airstrikes up to several days in advance but had switched to courier and landlines to avoid detection.

18. Another section of the report that was redacted in the 2007 release was the discussion of the concept of and rationale behind “thinking like the enemy.” (page 65). Even in 2007, a fundamental concept of OPSEC is viewing your own operations from an adversarial perspective in order to identify vulnerabilities and shortcomings that you would have missed otherwise. The 2024 release discusses the effectiveness of the approach and how combat commanders were eventually able to embrace it when shown concrete examples of lessons learned.

19. In yet another example of content that was redacted for unclear reasons, the section in which the Joint Chiefs of Staff noted that one-year rotations led to repeated OPSEC issues was redacted due to national security and classification reasons (page 76). The decision was then made to train servicemembers on OPSEC concepts before deployment rather than on the job when they get into theater. To help with coordination and planning, the DIA hosted the first Worldwide OPSEC Conference from 30 April to 2 May 1968 in Virginia. Shortly after this, COL Chance was named the head of the newly-created Joint Chiefs of Staff OPSEC branch, building on his

20. After the war ended, the OPSEC process was applied to peacetime drills and exercises to determine if the same issues would be discovered away from the chaos and fog of war. It turns out they were (page 77). Joint training exercises in Korea, code-named Combat Dawn SIGINT, found many of the same issues and indicators encountered in Vietnam only a few years prior. One example of many is that drone aircraft were deployed to skirt the North Korean airspace in an attempt to activate and test the country’s air defense radar system, but the drones invariably flew the same path for the same duration at the same time of day, making the mission predictable. Much like in Vietnam, the flight plans for the recovery helicopters were filed ahead of time- in this case, exactly at 0800 the day before.

21. An interesting perspective found in the 2024 release, but not the 2007 one, determined that “the greatest single cause of the U.S. military’s poor operations security in Vietnam (was) the general lack of respect U.S. personnel felt for the VC/NVA” (Page 85). General Creighton Abrams (the namesake for the M1 Abrams series of tanks) also reportedly said, “A lot of Americans over here underestimate the cleverness” of the North Korean people. In underestimating their adversary, U.S. forces underestimated their ability to intercept unsecured communications and their intelligence in analyzing intelligence.

22. Perhaps of interest to some, the 2024 release discusses the circumstances and resourcing concerns that led to the National OPSEC Program being ultimately established under the NSA (Page 90). The CINCPAC OPSEC branch was the rightful successor to the Purple Dragon survey team, but by 1980, the branch had dwindled to only five employees and was left unsure of its peacetime role. The NSA, however, had provided many of the staff for the CINCPAC team and, in no small part due to the leadership role of Sam Fisher and others, maintained a recent institutional memory for the process. In 1981, the agency began providing OPSEC training to the government, civilian, and military elements, so it came as no surprise when President Ronald Reagan established the NSA as the executive agent in charge of the National OPSEC Program when it was created in 1988.

A lot has changed in the decades since this history was written. And even more has changed since the date the final Purple Dragon report was submitted in 1967. But in understanding the history of OPSEC, we can understand just how many things have actually stayed the same. OPSEC is no longer only a military discipline, but the challenges faced by the original Purple Dragon survey team have a lot to teach us about the challenges we’re likely to face in our own organizations and communities.

fair housing for survivors act

OSE Supports the Fair Housing for Survivors Act of 2023

Operation Safe Escape applauds and supports the Fair Housing for Survivors Act of 2023, a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives earlier this year. This important piece of legislation aims to provide protection for survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and sex trafficking under the Fair Housing Act. If passed, the bill would include survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and sex trafficking to the list of classes protected under the existing Fair Housing Act, helping to protect survivors from discrimination or eviction for crimes committed against them.

The statistics are shocking and underscore the importance of this landmark legislation. Research indicates that up to 57% of homeless women, many with children, report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness. 84% of survivors in domestic violence shelters report that they need help finding affordable permanent housing, with more than half not receiving the assistance they need. And survivors who become homeless as a result of abuse or assault are at a significantly higher risk of other forms of victimization.

Sadly, the majority of survivors who experience sexual assault or abuse in their home do not immediately relocate to a safer environment because they lack funds or are not aware of the resources available to them. In a press release announcing the legislation, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz said, “for far too long, survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking have been forced to choose between confinement with their abusers or homelessness.” The time to act, clearly, is now.

The bipartisan bill has 53 cosponsors, which you can view here. Don’t see your representative on the list? Click “Contact Your Member” on this page and encourage them to support H.R. 2918, the Fair Housing for Survivors Act of 2023.

Elon plans to remove the Block function from Twitter (X) – A potentially unsafe decision.

Elon Musk made an announcement that X (aka Twitter) will be removing the block feature for public posts, leaving the function only available for direct messages. Elon is - frankly - wrong.On August 18, 2023, Twitter… we mean “X” owner Elon Musk made an announcement that the site will be removing the block feature for public posts, leaving the function only available for direct messages. He later clarified his (flawed) belief that the mute button is good enough to protect Twitter’s users.

Elon is, frankly, wrong.

Survivors of domestic violence and stalking block accounts for their own safety and mental health. It can help people share their story, connect with their support system, and enjoy the internet without the constant harassment of people who want to cause them harm or distress. And while not a perfect solution, it gives them some measure of control over their online presence even when the harasser creates new accounts for the same purpose. This is why we typically recommend survivors of abuse, stalking, and harassment block and report any accounts sending abusive messages.

Instead of blocking, Elon says that Twitter users should mute abusive accounts. The biggest problem with this approach is that the abuser can still send messages, which often includes threats, lies, and even non-consensual pornographic images. If the account is muted, the survivor won’t be able to see or address them, but everyone else on their timeline can. In effect, it gives control of the narrative over to the abuser while taking away from the voice of the survivor. This plan also makes it easy for abusers to view posts and replies from the survivor and their support system while remaining logged into their own account.

Blocking isn’t a perfect solution- there are ways around it, and stalkers or abusers know that. But taking away a tool that survivors of crime use to protect themselves is not okay. We’ve reached out to the Twitter team- and to Elon himself- to make it clear that this plan will put people at risk. Whether or not he listens remains to be seen.

Personally, we believe that Twitter will ultimately end up doing the right thing, but maybe not for the right reason. It’s been pointed out that the iOS app store requires that social media services require “The ability to block abusive users from the service.” Elon may argue that allowing users to block direct messages meets this requirement but we, and many Twitter users, can see that this isn’t enough to protect users.

Elon, millions of survivors of domestic violence, stalking, online abuse, and harassment are watching.

Additional Links:

Musk says X’s ‘block’ feature is going away

Social Media Abuse Resources

The State of Online Harassment

FCC Logo and Cell phones

FCC to Enact New Rules to Protect Survivors of DV

In December 2022, President Biden signed the Safe Connections Act into law. The Safe Connections Act required mobile service providers to separate a survivor’s phone line from a shared family plan in cases of abuse. Previously, even survivors of domestic violence required the account owner (often the abuser) permission to release the line and allow the survivor to keep their phone and number under their own plan. Of course, the abuser rarely gives this permission as another form of control.

Under this law, cell phone providers have two days to separate the line after the request is made. This allows the survivor to maintain contact with their support system without losing any of their contacts or history.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently considering rules that will meet the requirements of the law. Among the plans include a way to ensure calls to domestic violence hotlines don’t appear on call and text message logs, which will help make sure the abuser can’t see when the survivor reaches out for assistance. The FCC is also planning to launch a “lifeline” program to provide emergency communications for up to six months for survivors who can’t yet afford to pay for services.

When the FCC considers new rules and processes, they often have a public comment period to allow people to share their experiences and how the rules might affect them. Even more important, they listen. They have invited survivors and advocates to share their concerns and experiences to help them understand ways they can help survivors stay connected.

You too can make your voice heard. Comments are open until March 10, 2023; you can add yours by visiting the FCC Website and using “22-238” as the proceeding number. Using this number will automatically populate the subject with “Supporting Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence.”

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworce said in a statement “What I learned is that domestic abuse often happens in silence,” and she vows that the FCC will help break through that silence.

“Stalkerware” developer fined $410,000 by NY Attorney General, required to notify victims

As recently reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the New York Attorney General fined Patrick Hinchy and the 16 companies he runs a total of $410,000 for producing and selling spyware and stalkerware apps. Such apps can be used, as the name suggests, to spy on or stalk another person, often a spouse or intimate partner. Users were able to access victim’s personal messages, view their location, activate the microphone remotely, and more.

In addition to the fine, the companies have been required to notify victims that their devices were compromised and modify the spy app’s previously-obscured icon on the victim’s device to indicate it’s true purpose, as well as providing more information if the app is opened. They are also required to post removal instruction on their website and provide links to domestic violence resources.

In a press release announcing the move, New York State Attorney General Letita James noted, “[s]nooping on a partner and tracking their cell phone without their knowledge isn’t just a sign of an unhealthy relationship, it is against the law.” Specifically, its use likely violates federal wiretapping laws, state recording and privacy laws, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (CFAA), and more. Purchase and use of these tools have already led to convictions, and this move may lead to even more.

The recent move against stalkerware developers is a significant victory for those who have had their privacy violated by these malicious apps. Not only does it provide a sense of relief for survivors of domestic violence and victims of stalkerware, but it also serves as a warning to those who may consider purchasing these apps. They should be aware that they are breaking the law and that sooner or later, the consequences will catch up with them.

As a proud founding member of the Coalition Against Stalkerware, Operation Safe Escape applauds the actions taken by New York and encourages other states to follow in their footsteps. While there is still much work to be done in the fight against stalkerware, this is a pivotal shift shift toward the right direction.

Proposed England and Wales law would decriminalize non-consensual deepfake pornography and removes the barrier of “intent”

A proposed new law in England and Wales will close a loophole in non-consensual pornography laws and criminalize the sharing of pornographic deepfakes without consent.

The Online Safety Bill removes the requirement for prosecutors to prove an intent to cause distress, which has allowed offenders to avoid prosecution in the past by claiming they didn’t “intend to cause harm.”

Deepfakes allow creators to overlay an individual’s face on another person in a video, often making it look like the target is performing the actions in the source video. This has been for comedic effect, such as overlaying Steve Buscemi’s face over Jennifer Lawrence’s appearance at the golden globes, or less commonly for political purposes. Unfortunately, the technology can also be used to seemingly place an unwilling victim into pornographic videos.

Partially due to a growing awareness of deepfake technology, lawmakers felt compelled to tighten and update existing laws to aid in prosecution and protect victims of fake and nonconsensual pornographic images.

When announcing the measures, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said they wanted to “give women and girls the confidence that the justice system is on their side and will really come down like a ton of bricks on those who abuse or intimidate them”.

In a BBC interview in 2021, one unnamed deepfake porn creator said that such measures would make him stop doing it. He said, “if I could be traced online I would stop there and probably find another hobby.”

The Safe Connections Act Passes Congress, Pending Presidential Signature

Cell phones have changed the way we work, play, and communicate with one another. They can be used to talk to loved ones anywhere in the world, do schoolwork, play games, and so much more. In fact, for many of us, it’s hard to imagine life without it.

323.6 million Americans own cell phones, most having “smart phone” capability. Unfortunately, statistically speaking, up to 6.3 million of those people have been, are currently, or someday will be in an abusive relationship. In many of those cases, the abuser has control over the survivor’s phone plan- even after a breakup. That may allow the abuser to access their phone records, see who they’ve been speaking to, shut off the service at will, and prevent the survivor from moving the device to their own (more private) plan.

In January 2021, Senators Brian Schatz, Deb Fischer, Richard Blumenthal, Rick Scott, and Jacky Rosen sponsored Senate Bill 120, The Safe Connections Act. This bill requires mobile service providers to separate the survivor’s phone line, as well as their children or others in their care, from the abuser’s line whenever technically possible. Furthermore, the providers are not allowed by law to charge fees for this service.

The bill also requires providers to complete the separation within two days of making the request, allow remote methods to make the request, protect the survivor’s confidentiality, and provide information to the public about the service so people know it’s an option.

Happily, this bill has since passed both chambers of congress and is waiting for the President’s signature to become law. Operation Safe Escape agrees with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who says:

“We would have preferred a bill that did not require survivors to provide paperwork to “prove” their abuse. For many survivors, providing paperwork about their abuse from a third party is burdensome and traumatic, especially when it is required at the very moment when they are trying to free themselves from their abusers. However, this bill is a critical step in the right direction, and it is encouraging that Congress so overwhelmingly agreed.”

But, it’s a start and a huge victory for survivors of domestic violence and their advocates.

View details on the bill here.

Bill to protect pets from domestic violence abuse clears Utah House

Legislation to include pets in personal protective orders easily passed the House on Friday



The Utah Legislature is one step closer to allowing pets to be included in personal protective orders after the House approved HB175 by a 69-2 vote on Friday.

According to sponsor Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, 71% of women at domestic violence shelters say their abusers also threatened, injured, or in some cases, killed their pets “as a means of control.” She said 25% of survivors return to their abusers because their abuser threatens them with their pet.

“I know people always ask me why I run sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking legislation, and I think I do it because someone has to be that voice,” Romero said. “And in the time of COVID right now, there are a lot of people in very vulnerable situations. I want to make sure that we continue to say, ‘We see you’ and they get the help they need and they protect themselves, their children and their pets.”

2021 report from the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice found the U.S. saw an 8.1% increase in domestic violence instances over the first year of the pandemic. Isolation, job loss and the stresses of child care and homeschooling may have contributed to the increase, according to the report.

The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee endorsed HB175 last week, with all present committee members voting in favor. The bill allows individuals to petition the court to include pets on a personal protective order or stalking injunction — whether the pet is owned by the victim or by the abuser.

The bill would have Utah join 35 other states with similar laws, Romero said.

Rachel Heatley spoke in support of the bill during a committee meeting on Jan. 21, calling domestic violence a “secondary pandemic” brought on by the isolation caused by COVID-19. Heatley is the advocacy director for the Humane Society of Utah.

“What we see here is a significant problem of interpersonal violence,” she said, referencing a Farmington man who was arrested last year for abusing several women and torturing animals that belonged to them — including decapitating a cat and waving the severed head around “to terrify her while he laughed.”

Abigail Benesh, an attorney with the Humane Society, said there is a “significant correlation” between domestic abuse, animal abuse, elder abuse and child abuse.

“Abusers often exploit the emotional attachments that victims have with their pets,” she said. “That has them become pawns in this cruel game of coercion, manipulation and control in order to create an environment of fear and induced compliance.”

Residents — many of whom were victims of domestic abuse — also urged the committee to approve the bill. Inguinn Tersten said her teenage daughter has a brain disease and spinal cord injury, and they rely on a service dog to alert her if her daughter needs medical attention.

“My daughter’s service dog was severely used to threaten us as we were trying to break out of an abusive relationship,” Tersten said. “Every time we tried to get out my ex would control it with the dog. He knew we wouldn’t leave the dog behind because of what the dog does for my daughter.”

Jessica Gonzales said she had been in an abusive relationship where her boyfriend would threaten to lock her dog outside in freezing temperatures if she didn’t come home. She eventually escaped, but said it took weeks before she was able to testify before a grand jury in order to get her dog back.

“If a bill like this would have existed, I probably would have left a lot sooner,” she said.

Reps. Carl Albrecht, R-Richfield, and Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, were the only two “no” votes in the house. The bill now goes to the Senate, where the floor sponsor is Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville.

Ride for Awareness 2022 Update

julei and dins ride for awarensss julie mcmahon and din thomasOn January 8th, Julie McMahon’s and Din Thomas’ Ride For Awareness Event will be supporting Operation: Safe Escape! Every year, these to amazing people do a bike ride across Florida for charity. 2022’s January Ride for Awareness will be for OSE! The two-day ride, currently planned to start on January 8th, will take Julie & Din across the state, from Titusville to Clearwater. Operation: Safe Escape will be giving away prizes and swag, and sponsorships are now available and OSE will also have swag available at our upcoming swag store in December!

As always, your generous donations make a huge impact on survivors and their families.

Additionally, if you or someone you know may be interested in becoming a sponsor for this event, we would LOVE to feature you. There are Silver, Gold, and Platinum donation levels for our sponsors, at $100, $250, and $500 levels. If you’re interested in helping sponsor this event, please reach out to Tony Hunt at [email protected] and he will supply more information for Sponsorship.

Here is the link for the event donations:

Thank you all for your continued support!