- Technology-assisted stalking and abuse is a form of domestic violence (DV) that is rapidly on the rise.
- Despite the pervasiveness of technology-facilitated stalking and abuse, recognition of the seriousness of such conduct and the corresponding effect it has on victims is lagging behind.
- It is imperative that lawyers, police officers, and the judiciary recognise what technology-facilitated domestic violence looks like, that it has a devastating and long lasting impact on victims, and that the legal framework should be used to its fullest extent to protect victims from such abuse.
Advances in information and communication technology, together with increased access to such technology, have led to a rapid rise in technology-assisted domestic violence (also known as technology-facilitated stalking and abuse). This is reflected in the experiences of clients seen by Women’s Legal Services NSW (‘WLS NSW’) as well as in the results of the latest national survey of domestic violence workers – 98 per cent of whom stated that they had clients who had experienced technology-facilitated stalking and abuse (Technology Facilitated Abuse, DVRCV Advocate, Autumn/Winter 2015).
Through the use of the internet, social media, email, mobile devices, and surveillance software and devices – domestic violence perpetrators have access to new methods and tools to abuse, threaten, intimidate, harass and stalk their victims. In turn, victims of such abuse can feel tethered to their abusive partners by technology, unable to escape. The sense of no escape, combined with the constancy of the surveillance and abuse, leads to high levels of emotional distress and impacts on victims’ mental and physical health. (Delanie Woodlock, (2013) Technology-facilitated Stalking: Findings and Recommendations from the SmartSafe Project, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Collingwood.)