The use of technology to facilitate violence in intimate relationships has emerged as a serious issue in Australia. This form of violence is called technology-facilitated domestic violence and has serious implications for legal responses addressing domestic violence and violence against women more generally.
The use of information communication technologies (ICT) to facilitate abuse and stalking has been found by Australian researchers to be prevalent in domestic violence situations. Text messaging and Facebook are the most commonly used technologies, followed by email, phone calls and GPS tracking via smartphone apps.
Perpetrators are also known to adapt to emerging technologies to incite violence in innovative and unsettling ways. ICT is used to abuse, threaten, monitor, humiliate and punish victims. The impacts of technology-facilitated domestic violence include fear for one’s physical safety, humiliation and embarrassment, psychological and social harms. Cyber-stalking in particular is a concerning behaviour, which has been shown to lead to potential serious harm.
Current legal responses re in need of serious reform. The report lists 8 recommendations in response to the current shortcomings of legal responses and challenges posed by digital technologies.
Naomi Sheridan has put together a comprehensive report investigating ICT facilitated violence. Investigating the current challenges faced by policy, legislation and law enforcement in addressing ICT assisted intimate partner violence here in Victoria. The report can be downloaded from here.