Technology-facilitated abuse: National survey of Australian adults’ experiences
Australian research has already shown that the use of technology to perpetrate violence against women is a rapidly growing and serious problem. While it was clear that technology-facilitated abuse (TFA) was prevalent in the Australian community, prior to this study no national baseline existed.
This is the third and final report from a larger national study examining the extent and nature of, and responses to, TFA within the Australian community. This report establishes national prevalence rates for the victimisation and perpetration of key behavioural subtypes of TFA, utilising a nationally representative survey of Australians aged 18 years and over with a final sample of 4,526 people (women: n=2,499; men: n=2,063). The survey instrument was developed in consultation with the project’s advisory group and adapted items from the Technology-facilitated Abuse in Relationships (TAR) scale developed by Brown and Hegarty (2021) to extend them beyond the context of current or former intimate partner relationships. The survey instrument included the 18-question Gender Equality Attitudes Scale (GEAS) developed as part of the National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women Survey (NCAS), select items from the Kessler (K6+) Psychological Distress Scale, and some digital participation items drawn from the Digital Inclusion Index.
The research found that experiencing any TFA victimisation in their lifetime is very common among Australian adults, with one in two Australians surveyed having experienced at least one TFA behaviour at some point in their life. While TFA occurs in a range of contexts, approximately one in three TFA victimisation experiences (36.7%, n=852) were reported as occurring in a current or former intimate partner relationship in the participant’s most recent experience. TFA perpetration was also common, with one in four Australian adults self-reporting having engaged in at least one TFA perpetration behaviour at some point in their life.
The research found there is a substantial gendered component to TFA, with women significantly more likely to experience TFA perpetrated by a man rather than a woman in their most recent TFA experience. This gendered pattern was further reflected in the relational contexts of TFA victimisation, where more women than men experienced TFA from an intimate partner or former partner. Women were significantly more likely than men to report emotional and psychological impacts of TFA, as well as experiencing co-occurring abuse from the same perpetrator.
This work is part of the ANROWS research reports series. ANROWS research reports are in-depth reports on empirical research produced under ANROWS’s research program.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR ANASTASIA POWELL
Criminology & Justice Studies, RMIT University
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR ASHER FLYNN
Criminology, School of Social Sciences, Monash University
Research Assistant, Criminology, Monash University
ISBN: 978-1-922645-43-2 (paperback) | 978-1-922645-44-9 (PDF)
Powell, A., Flynn, A., & Hindes, S. (2022). Technology-facilitated abuse: National survey of Australian adults’ experiences (Research report, 12/2022). ANROWS.