Following, harassing and monitoring


  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Personal Safety, Australia, 2016, ABS cat no. 4906.0 (2016).

    This release presents information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS).

    The survey collected detailed information from men and women about their experiences of violence since the age of 18, as well as experiences of current and previous partner violence, stalking, physical and sexual abuse and harassment, abuse before the age of 15, and general feelings of safety.

    Stalking was defined in the survey as ‘any unwanted contact or attention on more than one occasion that could have caused fear or distress, or multiple types of unwanted contact or behaviour experienced on one occasion only that could have caused fear or distress’. Overall, women were more likely than men to have experienced stalking, with approximately 17% of women (1.6 million), and 6.5% of men (587,000), reporting an experience of stalking since age 15 (see Table 34). ‘

    ‘Women were more likely to have experienced an episode of stalking by someone they knew than by a stranger’, with more than three quarters of female victims knowing their stalker. Further, women were also significantly more likely to be stalked by a man than by a woman (see Table 35). This section also contains information regarding whether victims perceived their experiences of stalking as a crime, and whether they reported the episode to the police (see Table 35).
  • Bagshaw, Dale, et al, ‘Reshaping Responses to Domestic Violence’ (Final Report, University of South Australia and Partnerships Against Domestic Violence, April 2000).

    This Australian research used a variety of methods including an anonymous ‘phone-in’ and focus groups. 102 women who were victims/survivors of domestic violence participated in the phone-in. According to the study authors, some of the callers reported ‘intense levels of surveillance, which leave women without autonomy.’ This experience was exacerbated for women living in rural and remote areas, especially on isolated properties. Strategies of surveillance included (p24):

    • ‘not allowing the woman to obtain a driver’s licence or paid employment,
    • constant telephone calls to check whereabouts, timing the distances to be travelled (for example, home from work) and/or
    • preventing the woman from closing the toilet door.’
    The writers commented that callers reported that ‘the law was not seen to take threats seriously and placed an unreasonable onus on the victim to provide dates or other evidence of violence, requiring a level of documentation that is generally impossible for a woman living in a state of constant surveillance’ (p46).
  • Douglas, Heather, Bridget Harris & Molly Dragiewicz, Technology-facilitated Domestic and Family Violence: Women’s Experiences, (2019) 59(3) The British Journal of Criminology 551-70

    This article analyses data drawn from interviews undertaken with 55 domestic and family violence survivors in Brisbane, and outlines survivors’ experiences of technology-facilitated domestic and family violence. During the interviews, participants were asked about their experiences of DFV and their engagement with legal processes. Participants provided many examples of technology being used by perpetrators to isolate, stalk and emotionally abuse them and to create a sense of the perpetrator being omnipresent. Although several women used technology to document the abuse, to improve their safety and to stop the abuse, some also pointed to their lack of understanding or skill with respect to technology compared to their abuser. The survivor accounts demonstrate the need to study the context, meaning, motives and outcomes of technology-facilitated activity.

  • Dragiewicz, Molly, Woodlock, Delanie, Salter, Michael, & Harris, Bridget 'What’s Mum's Password?': Australian Mothers' Perceptions of Children's Involvement in Technology-Facilitated Coercive Control. (2022) 37(1), Journal of Family Violence, 137-149.
    This article is based on semi-structured interviews with those 12 mothers. The accounts show how children were directly abused via technology, such father impersonating a child to speak to his daughter and another father calling his daughter “a sneaky bitch” when she refused to provide her mother’s password. Participants recounted how children were drawn into technology-facilitated abuse aimed at the mothers, for example by being asked to provide passwords to abusers or show abusers around their new house via FaceTime. Abuse often escalated at parental separation as abusers lost some avenues of control but gained access to others.
  • Flynn, A., Powell, A., & Hindes, S. (2021). Technology-facilitated abuse: A survey of support services stakeholders (Research report, 02/2021). ANROWS
    Survey of 338 support service workers. The study found that in the experience of support services workers, foremost comprising domestic and sexual violence services, TFA is a significant and gendered problem with victims facing significant impacts and barriers to help-seeking. Support services workers described TFA as a growing issue for their clients, particularly with the ever-expanding and vast landscape of digital technologies. However, they also identified that there are significant obstacles to helping clients who are experiencing TFA, and expressed concerns over the adequacy of current responses. These include difficulty in finding up-to-date information, TFA not being taken seriously by police and courts, and inadequate responses from technology providers. Support services workers called for these key areas to be improved. They also identified areas in which they need additional support and training, including responding to perpetrators, meeting the needs of diverse clients and strategies for preventing TFA. Overall, the vital, practice-based knowledge from support services workers in this study has allowed us to demonstrate tangible ways in which we can more effectively disrupt, prevent and respond to TFA.
  • The minimisation of technology-facilitated stalking and abuse is reflected in the Australian 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey. In this survey more than 17,500 telephone interviews were undertaken to compare the attitudes of 16-24 year olds to 35-64 years olds. The study found the majority of young people agreed that tracking a female partner by electronic means without consent was serious. Youth males rated it at an overall seriousness level of 80% while youth females rated it at 87%. This is compared to adult men who rated it at 81% with their female counterparts rating it at 90%. The study also found 52% of youth males and 40% of youth females thought non-consensual electronic tracking of a female partner was acceptable to some degree, compared to 41% of adult males and 29% of adult females.
  • Harris, Bridget and Delanie Woodlock, Spaceless violence: Women’s experiences of technology-facilitated domestic violence in regional, rural and remote areas. Trends and Issues paper 644, (Australian Institute of Criminology, 2022).

    Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with 13 victim–survivors.

    The participants detailed the way that technology was incorporated into perpetrators’ control and intimidation tactics, often extending and exacerbating the abuse these women experienced. When women separated from the perpetrator, his use of technology often escalated. As opportunities to engage in physical abuse were limited, technology enabled the perpetrator to still reach into the victim’s private sphere. While digital coercive control is spaceless, the space in which the woman and the perpetrator are physically located matters. The participants in this research emphasised that rural, remote and regional locations shaped both the manifestations and impacts of abuse, as well as the barriers they experienced when seeking help.
  • Henry, N., Gavey, N., & Johnson, K. (2022). Image-Based Sexual Abuse as a Means of Coercive Control: Victim-Survivor Experiences. Violence Against Women, online first.

    Article reports on a study involving interviews with 29 women and one gender-diverse person who experienced image-based sexual abuse as part of a pattern of “coercive control.”

    From Conclusion: The interviews demonstrated a diversity of experiences well beyond the paradigm of “revenge porn.” A common theme across these interviews was the dynamic of coercive control. Image-based sexual abuse is one of many abusive tactics employed (both technology- and nontechnology-based) to isolate and entrap victims within abusive relationships, or at the end of the relationship, to control, intimidate, punish, and degrade them.
  • Henry, Nicola, Anastasia Powell and Asher Flynn, Not Just ‘Revenge Pornography’: Australians’ Experiences of Image-Based Abuse - A Summary Report (RMIT University, 2017).

    This summary report presents the results of a national (Australian) online survey of 4,274 participants, 2,406 of which were female (56%) and 1,868 male (44%).Participants ranged in age from 16 to 49, with an average age of 34 years. In addition, 3,764 (88%) participants identified as heterosexual and 510 (12%) identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual (hereafter, LGB). Of those identifying as LGB, 244 identified as female (48%), and 266 (52%) identified as male. Key findings included:

    • 1 in 5 Australians have experienced image-based abuse
    • Victims of image-based abuse experience high levels of psychological distress
    • Women and men are equally likely to report being a victim
    • Perpetrators of image-based abuse are most likely to be male, and known to the victim
    • Men and young adults are more likely to voluntarily share a nude or sexual image of themselves
    • Women are more likely than men to fear for their safety due to image-based abuse
    • Abuse risk is higher for those who share sexual selfies, but they are not the only victims
    • 1 in 2 Australians with a disability report being a victim of image-based abuse
    • 1 in 2 Indigenous Australians report image-based abuse victimisation
    • Image-based abuse victimisation is higher for lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians
    • Young people aged 16 to 29 years are also at higher risk of image-based abuse
    • 4 in 5 Australians agree it should be a crime to share sexual or nude images without permission
  • Henry, Nicola, Asher Flynn and Anastasia Powell, Image-based sexual abuse: Victims and perpetrators (Australian Institute of Criminology Report No. 572 March 2019).

    Report abstract:

    Image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) refers to the non-consensual creation, distribution or threatened distribution of nude or sexual images. This research examines the prevalence, nature and impacts of IBSA victimisation and perpetration in Australia. This form of abuse was found to be relatively common among respondents surveyed and to disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with a disability, homosexual and bisexual people and young people. The nature of victimisation and perpetration was found to differ by gender, with males more likely to perpetrate IBSA, and females more likely to be victimised by a partner or ex-partner.
  • Henry, N., Gavey, N., & Johnson, K. (2022) Image-Based Sexual Abuse as a Means of Coercive Control: Victim-Survivor Experiences. Violence Against Women, online first.

    Article reports on a study involving interviews with 29 women and one gender-diverse person who experienced image-based sexual abuse as part of a pattern of “coercive control.”

    From Conclusion: The interviews demonstrated a diversity of experiences well beyond the paradigm of “revenge porn.” A common theme across these interviews was the dynamic of coercive control. Image-based sexual abuse is one of many abusive tactics employed (both technology- and nontechnology-based) to isolate and entrap victims within abusive relationships, or at the end of the relationship, to control, intimidate, punish, and degrade them.
  • NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team, Report 2017-2019, 2020, NSW Government.
    Includes detail on deaths referred to the Coroner, drawing on both data analysis and in-depth case analyses. Useful information about how domestic violence-related homicides and suicides are recorded in NSW.
  • Powell, Anastasia and Nicola Henry, ‘Digital Harassment and Abuse of Adult Australians – A Summary Report’ (2015).

    Researchers at RMIT University and La Trobe University examined the extent, nature and impacts of digital harassment and abuse, as well as technology-facilitated sexual violence and harassment. 3000 Australian adults (aged 18 to 54) were surveyed about their experiences of these forms of abuse. Key findings include:

    • Overall, men and women were just as likely to report experiencing digital harassment and abuse
    • Women were more likely to report experiencing sexual harassment
    • Young adults aged 18 to 24 were more likely than any other age groups to experience digital harassment and abuse
    • Non-heterosexual identifying adults were significantly more likely to report being the target of both gender and sexuality based harassment
    • 1 in 10 Australians reported that someone had posted online or sent onto others a nude or semi-nude image of them without their permission
    • Women overwhelmingly experienced digital harassment and abuse from male perpetrators
    • Men experienced digital harassment and abuse equally from males and females
    • Women were significantly more likely than men to be ‘very or extremely upset’ by the digital harassment and abuse they experienced
    • More women than men reported that they told the person to stop, changed their online details or profile settings, left the site or turned off their device, as a result of their experience
  • Sun, Charissa, ‘Technology-Facilitated Stalking and Abuse: Putting Our Legal Framework to the Test’ (2015) (June) The Law Society Journal of New South Wales 78.

    This article reviews the NSW legal response to what is referred to as ‘technology assisted stalking and abuse.’ It includes helpful examples of this behaviour:

    • making numerous and unwanted calls to a person’s mobile phone;
    • sending threatening and/or abusive messages (text messaging, Whatsapp, Snapchat, facebook messaging, Twitter);
    • hacking into a person’s email or social media account to discover information about them;
    • hacking into a person’s email or social media account to impersonate them and send abusive messages to family/friends of that person;
    • using surveillance software and devices to spy on or stalk a person (eg placing a GPS tracker on a person’s car, placing a video camera in and around a person’s home to monitor both the person and other people who may come to the house); and
    • sharing, or threatening to share, intimate pictures of a person.
  • Woodlock, Delanie, ‘The Abuse of Technology in Domestic Violence and Stalking’ (2017) 23(5) Violence Against Women 584-602.
    This study discusses the increasing prevalence of technology in domestic violence and stalking (p 585). The results demonstrate that technology, including phones, computers, tablets, and social media, is frequently used in intimate partner violence (p 590). The use of technology creates an impression of the perpetrator’s omnipresence, for example through constant text messages or phone calls (pp 592, 598), and can isolate (pp 594-6, 598), humiliate and punish the victim (pp 596-7, 599). A particular threat of technology is the sharing of sexualised content online to humiliate victims (p 599).
  • Women’s Health East, Women online: The intersection of technology, gender and sexism (Melbourne: Women’s Health East, 2018).
    The paper examines the intersection of technology, gender and sexism, as well as the prevalence and impacts of cyber violence against women and girls. The authors describe the key drivers of violence, such as gender inequality, and how these interact with the online platforms to create cyber violence. The paper explores ‘life online’ esp, pp8-12.
  • This report explores the 2020 findings of a national Australian survey with 442 frontline DV practitioners about the use of technology by perpetrators.

    Almost all survey respondents (99.3%) stated that they had clients who had experienced technology facilitated stalking and abuse.

    The type of technology most commonly used by perpetrators was text messaging, with two thirds (60.7%) of practitioners seeing this ‘all the time’. Text messages could be used in various ways, from constantly sending messages to victims-survivors, to carefully worded messages that perpetrators would use to cause victim-survivors fear.

    Smartphones were the next most commonly used technology (36.1% seeing this ‘all the time’). Facebook was also reported to be used frequently by perpetrators to abuse (35.1% noting this as occurring ‘all the time’).

    Respondents noted they were seeing GPS tracking apps used ‘all the time’ (16.2%) and ‘often’ (45.6%). Participants noted that because GPS tracking apps such as “Find My” are preloaded on iPhones, that women were often obligated to turn them on, or else they were seen by the perpetrator as having something to hide.

    FaceTime was seen as being used to perpetrate technology-facilitated abuse, with almost half seeing this ‘often’ (42.6%).

    iCloud was also noted as commonly used by perpetrators to stalk and place women under surveillance, with almost half (42.2%) observing this ‘often’.

    Of significance was the high proportion of respondents seeing government accounts such as myGov being misused by perpetrators to abuse women, with almost a third of respondents seeing this ‘all the time’ (27%) and a further fifth seeing it ‘often’ (37.8%).


  • Backes, Bethany, Lisa Fedina and Jennifer Holmes, The Criminal Justice System Response to Intimate Partner Stalking: a Systematic Review of Quantitative and Qualitative Research, (2020) Journal of Family Violence.

    This international study assesses the range of criminal justice responses to intimate partner stalking (IPS) victimisation and the extent to which these responses are successful in promoting survivor safety, well-being, and justice. The findings identify formal and informal strategies employed by the criminal justice system to address IPS. Successful strategies for mitigating IPS were associated with increased training of law enforcement and prosecution and the granting and enforcement of civil protective orders.

  • Drouin, Michelle, Jody Ross and Elizabeth Tobin, Sexting: A new digital vehicle for intimate partner aggression (2015) 50 Computers in Human Behaviour 197.
    In this study, the authors examined the relationships between sexting coercion, physical sex coercion, intimate partner violence, and mental health and trauma symptoms within a sample of 480 young adult undergraduates (160 men and 320 women). Approximately one fifth of the sample indicated that they had engaged in sexting when they did not want to. Those who had been coerced into sexting had usually been coerced by subtler tactics (e.g., repeated asking and being made to feel obligated) than more severe forms of coercion (e.g., physical threats). Nevertheless, the trauma related to these acts of coercion both at the time they occurred and now (looking back) were greater for sexting coercion than for physical sex coercion. Moreover, women noted significantly more trauma now (looking back) than at the time the events occurred for sexting coercion. Additionally, those who experienced more instances of sexting coercion also endorsed more symptoms of anxiety, depression, and generalized trauma. Finally, sexting coercion was related to both physical sex coercion and intimate partner violence, which suggests that sexting coercion may be a form of intimate partner violence, providing perpetrators with a new, digital route for physical and sexual covictimization.
  • This article highlights how domestic violence perpetrators can use coercive control against their children after their ex-partner has separated from them. It provides insights into how children experience coercive control post-separation by drawing from two data sets: one from the UK and one from Finland. The data comprised narratives of 29 children and young people aged from 4 to 21 years old. Three overarching themes arose from the data: 1) dangerous fathering that made children frightened and unsafe; 2) ‘admirable’ fathering, where fathers/father figures appeared as ‘caring’, ‘concerned’, ‘indulgent’ and/or ‘vulnerable-victims’; and 3) omnipresent fathering that continually constrained children’s lives. Dangerous fathering made children’s lives frightening, constrained and unpredictable. Admirable fathering was found to be a powerful tool of control when combined with dangerous fathering, because admirable fathering increased father-child emotional bonds and could make children want to see/live with their fathers, whilst dangerous fathering simultaneously made them fearful of him. Admirable fathering was typically aimed at professionals and wider communities, and could occur alongside fathers/father figures stalking, harassing and/or attacking ex-partners and children when they were not in the public eye. Perpetrators aimed to portray themselves as ‘caring’, ‘concerned’, ‘indulgent’ and/or ‘vulnerable-victim’ fathers, and to make their ex-partners seem like perpetrators or deficient mothers. Perpetrators disguised their use of coercive control tactics as ‘admirable’ behaviour. With respect to omnipresent fathering, children were fearful that their father/father figure could appear at any time to attack, harass, manipulate, upset or kidnap them or their mothers. This behaviour led to some children continuously monitoring their surroundings as a protective strategy. Fathers/father figures were able to maintain some degree of control, domination and emotional power over children even when they were not physically present. The article suggests that robust measures are necessary to prevent coercive control perpetrating fathers/father figures from using father-child relationships to continue exerting coercive control on children and ex-partners.
  • Lo, M., A Domestic Violence Dystopia: Abuse via the Internet of Things and Remedies Under Current Law. California Law Review, [s. l.], v. 109, n. 1, p. 277–315, 2021.
    US based note. Abstract: Tactics of domestic violence are nothing new. However, as with various other aspects of modern life, technology threatens disruption. The increasing prevalence of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has given abusers a powerful new tool to expand and magnify the traditional harms of domestic violence, threatening the progress advocates have made in the past thirty years and creating novel dangers for survivors. An IoT device is a “smart,” stand-alone, internet-connected device that can be monitored or controlled from a remote location. They are cheap and increasingly common—the number of IoT-enabled devices in the world is already in the billions and expected to grow quickly. IoT devices allow abusers to overcome geographic and spatial boundaries that would have otherwise prevented them from monitoring, controlling, harassing, and threatening survivors. Various advocates are finding ways to protect survivors, and the broader public, from these new dangers. In the domestic violence sphere, domestic violence service providers are creating resources for survivors that explain IoT-facilitated abuse and how to better secure their smart devices. In the technology sphere, consumers, businesses, digital experts, and the media are broadcasting the security risks of IoT devices. Unfortunately, significantly fewer outlets describe the legal remedies available for IoT-facilitated abuse. This Note aims to bridge that gap. It demonstrates that IoT facilitated abuse is a form of technology-facilitated domestic violence and explores how society can use current laws to address IoT facilitated abuse. However, it also questions whether the existing remedies are sufficient and offers recommendations for legal and nonlegal changes that will better protect survivors of IoT-facilitated abuse and hold perpetrators accountable.
  • Mechanic, Mindy B, Terri L Weaver and Patricia A Resick, ‘Intimate Partner Violence and Stalking Behaviors: Exploration of Patterns and Correlates in a Sample of Acutely Battered Women’ (2000) 15(1) Violence and Victims 55.
    These USA based researchers recruited 114 battered women from shelters, agencies, and from the community at large to complete a survey and an interview about stalking. Results support the view that violent and harassing stalking behaviours occur with high frequency among physically battered women, both while they are in the relationship and after they leave their abusive partners. Emotional and psychological abuse emerged as strong predictors of within- and post-relationship stalking, and contributed significantly to women's fears of future serious harm or death, even after the effects of physical violence were controlled. The length of time a woman was out of the violent relationship was the strongest predictor of post-separation stalking: stalking increased over time.
  • Messing, Jill et al., Intersections of Stalking and Technology-Based Abuse: Emerging Definitions, Conceptualization, and Measurement, (2020) Journal of Family Violence.
    This article analyses stalking and technology-based abuse across 3 samples of IPV survivors (pen-and-paper surveys, web-based surveys and qualitative interviews). Over a 6-year period, data was collected from IPV survivors who received services from domestic violence programs (including shelters). This article highlights the high prevalence of intimate partner stalking, including direct stalking, monitoring, online harassment, and cyberstalking, among shelter and service-seeking survivors of IPV. Around 62-72% of women reported being directly stalked, and 60-63% reported experiencing technology-based abuse by an intimate partner. Women reported monitoring, online harassment, and cyberstalking more readily when directly asked, thereby demonstrating the importance of incorporating technology-based abuse into assessment and intervention.
  • Stark, Evan, Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life (Oxford University Press, 2007).

    This book is a key text on domestic and family violence. Although Stark is based in the United States his work has been highly influential in Australia. In this book Stark explains that domestic and family violence is a pattern of controlling behaviours akin to terrorism and hostage-taking. Drawing on court records, interviews, and FBI statistics, Stark details coercive strategies that men use to deny women their very personhood. He explains that surveillance and stalking include behaviours such as gathering information without the victim’s knowledge and letting the victim know she is being watched, and serve as a means of curtailing the victim’s activities and isolating her (p457-8).

    Stark also discusses what he refers to as ‘micro-surveillance’, including activities such as going through diaries and drawers etc; monitoring phone calls, bank accounts and movements; or requiring partners to ‘check-in’ as a form of coercive control used by abusers in relationships (p461-3). Stark notes on p374 surveillance tactics may be extended to the point the victim is essentially confined, amounting to a deprivation of liberty. See this YouTube video of Evan Stark, discussing the central thesis of his book: Coercive Control: The Entrapment of Women in Personal Life.