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Know the facts

Domestic, family and sexual violence occurs across all ages, and all socioeconomic and demographic groups, but predominantly affects women and children.

Since the age of 15:

  • one in four Australian women has experienced emotional abuse from a current or former partner
  • one in six Australian women has experienced physical and / or sexual violence from a current or former partner

The 2016 Personal Safety Survey found that overall, women were more likely to have experienced stalking than men. An estimated 1 in 6 women (17% or 1.6 million) and 1 in 15 men (6.5% or 587,000) had experienced an episode of stalking since the age of 15. Women were also more likely to have experienced an episode of stalking by someone they knew than by a stranger.

Women are nearly 3 times more likely than a man to have experienced violence by a partner.

Stalking behaviours included:

  • Loitering or hanging around outside their home, workplace, school or education facility, their place of leisure/social activities.
  • Following or watching them in person.
  • Following or watching them using an electronic tracking device (e.g. GPS tracking system, computer spyware).
  • Maintaining unwanted contact with them by phone, postal mail, email, text messages or social media websites.
  • Posting offensive or unwanted messages, images or personal information on the internet about them.
  • Impersonating them online to damage their reputation.
  • Hacking or accessing their email, social media or other online account without their consent to follow or track them.
  • Giving or leaving them objects where they could be found that were offensive or disturbing.
  • Interfering with or damaging any of their property.

In our community some women are at greater risk of violence, including domestic and family violence, particularly:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
  • young women
  • women who are pregnant
  • women separating from their partners
  • women with a disability or long-term health condition
  • women experiencing financial hardship

Women and men who experienced abuse or witnessed domestic violence as children (before the age of 15) are also at increased risk of experiencing partner violence themselves.

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS 2016).

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018. Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia 2018. Cat. no. FDV 2. Canberra (AIHW)

How prevalent is technology-facilitated abuse?

A 2015 survey of domestic violence frontline workers, found that 98% of respondents had clients who had experienced technology-facilitated stalking and abuse.

The survey found that technology-facilitated abuse happens across a wide range of platforms, including: 

  • text message (80%) 
  • Facebook (82%)
  • mobile phones (82%)
  • email (52%)
  • GPS tracking (29%)

Technology is being used to:

  • abuse (name calling and put downs)
  • threaten (threats to harm)
  • monitor (checking text messages and phones without permission)
  • check on a woman’s whereabouts using text, email or instant messaging 
  • humiliate and punish (threatening to distribute private, intimate photos or videos)

Reference

Woodlock, Delanie (2015) ReCharge: Women’s Technology Safety, Legal Resources, Research and Training, Women’s Legal Service NSW, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria and WESNET, Collingwood (ReCharge)

Women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities

Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities face multiple barriers in seeking support for technology-facilitated abuse. 

The key barriers CALD women face in seeking support for technology-facilitated abuse are:

  • a lack of awareness that technology-facilitated abuse may constitute a criminal offence
  • language barriers which may contribute to a lack of awareness about what services are available, and create challenges in explaining their personal experiences 
  • issues with interpreter services, particularly where the interpreter may know the victim/perpetrator
  • low digital literacy—which can heighten vulnerability to technology-facilitated abuse, impact on their capacity to identify that they are victims of technology-facilitated abuse and also their ability to address the abuse once identified
  • cultural biases and misunderstandings from some support services, particularly the police
  • shaming and traditional gender roles preventing women from these communities from seeking support; this can include threats of public shame (as a ‘bad wife’) and of discrediting her reputation with friends, family and the broader community.
  • a lack of financial resources to leave the perpetrator, particularly for recently arrived migrants, women on spousal visas, and women with low levels of English who may struggle to find employment
  • a lack of trust in state institutions based on experiences from their home country.

While the impacts of technology-facilitated abuse on women from CALD communities are not substantially different to the impacts experienced by other women, their social isolation may be amplified where fear of shaming is particularly strong. 

Reference