Posted in Media releases
New research to investigate the growing problem of technology-facilitated abuse
Thursday, 4th June 2020
The use of technology to perpetrate violence against women is a rapidly growing and serious problem.
Australian data shows that there is increased cause for concern during COVID-19. Over the first half of 2020, traffic to the website of the eSafety Commissioner—which offers information about technology-facilitated abuse—has doubled. The Commissioner’s Office has also recorded a 200 percent surge in image-based abuse over March and April (when compared to the 2019 monthly average), and one weekend in April saw a 341 percent spike in people targeted by a sex-based extortion scam.
While the international evidence around this type of abuse is growing, there is an urgent need for rigorous and current evidence on the extent of the problem in Australia. This information will be fundamental in furnishing policy-makers with the information needed to develop an effective response.
Australia’s National Research organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) is today launching new research to investigate the extent and impacts of this kind of abuse in Australia. The project will be led by Associate Professor Asher Flynn from Monash University and Associate Professor Anastasia Powell from RMIT University.
This research aims to better understand the nature and characteristics of technology-facilitated abuse, and to establish reliable national prevalence rates for victimisation and perpetration, including online sexual harassment, stalking, partner violence and image-based sexual abuse.
“This is an important step towards understanding contemporary techniques used to perpetrate abuse in Australia,” said Professor Flynn. “While research is rapidly developing both here and internationally, there are gaps in our understanding that we need to fill.”
“We are particularly interested in women’s lived experiences of technology-facilitated abuse, and how people seek help following the perpetration of the abuse.”
The project will also examine the challenges of responding to this kind of abuse.
“This research will look at ways to more effectively disrupt, prevent and respond to technology-facilitated abuse,” said ANROWS CEO, Dr Heather Nancarrow.
“This work will provide a crucial evidence base to inform future innovations in practice that will improve the safety of Australian women.”
Minister for Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the Morrison Government had committed $5.6 million for ANROWS to conduct this and other vital research that would help position ongoing investment in reducing violence against women and their children.
“As technology becomes ever more pervasive in our everyday lives, unfortunately, this means there are more opportunities for the very technology we rely on to be misused for abuse,” Minister Ruston said.
“This research will be vital to help all levels of Government and the broader community work on ways to prevent and respond to technology-facilitated abuse.”
This study is part of a program of research led by ANROWS and funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.
For further information, contact Michele Robinson at ANROWS
on +61 0417 780 556 or email email@example.com.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited (ANROWS) is a not-for-profit independent national research organisation.
ANROWS is an initiative of Australia’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022. ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.
ANROWS is the only such research organisation in Australia.