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Technology offers plenty of opportunities, but it also creates more outlets for abusers to take advantage of others.

That somber side of technology will be presented by Ebony Utley, professor of communication studies at Cal State Long Beach, during the university's inaugural symposium called Behind the Screens: Dangers, Benefits Technology Poses to Victims of Domestic Violence.

"I spent the last six months really thinking about domestic violence and all of the forms that really takes on," Utley said. "Technology, with all of the good it can provide, also provides other ways for abusers to continue their abuse."

Some examples Utley used include coercive texting, a string of text messages sent back to back inciting a response regardless of where the receiver is, as well as using smart devices that manage home locks and thermostats to lock an individual indoors or keep the temperature at home at near unbearable levels.

"These forms of domestic violence do not yet have precedent in the court system," she said. "There currently are no laws protecting victims from these acts."

Although the theme surrounding this event may be less than positive on the topic of technology, Utley said that people should keep in mind benefits that are readily available.

"There's so many resources available," she said. "It's also about how technology saves lives, provides resources and makes it easier to reach out."

In addition to her teaching role at CSULB, Utley is the associate director of the university's Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the sponsors of the event. That program brings a number of technology-related events and conversations to the table to help CSULB students use technology to their advantage. 

The symposium on Dangers, Benefits Technology Poses to Victims of Domestic Violence is free to attend and all attendees must be 14 years or older. An open discussion also will take place where attendees can share their experiences and discuss methods that combat domestic violence.

Due to the event's content, counselors will be available if anyone is triggered by the conversation or event activities. 

"This is a safe space for participants," Utley said. "We have people here to talk should guests feel overwhelmed."

Behind the Screens is taking place from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the Karl Anatol Center at CSULB, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., on the first floor of the Academic Services Building (AS-119).

A light dinner also will be served for all attending.

For more information, and to reserve a seat, go to

Anyone interested in sharing their story with the group, or for questions, email Dr. Emily Utley at

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at

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