More Australians abused through technology

·2-min read

One in two Australians have been abused, harassed or stalked through technology in their lifetime, a report has found.

A little more than a third of people have been monitored and controlled through their devices or social media, according to the report from Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS).

Emotional abuse, threats and targeted harassment are also common, with more than 36 per cent of perpetrators being the victim-survivor's current or former intimate partner.

While people of all genders and backgrounds reported experiencing technology-facilitated abuse, report author Asher Flynn said there were some gender differences.

"Women were more likely to experience the abuse from a male ... and they were likely to experience ongoing abuse occurring with other forms of abuse," the Monash University associate professor told AAP.

"Men were less likely to experience partner abuse and were less likely to experience repeated abuse or control from the same person."

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, those living with a disability, and people from the LGBTQI community also experienced significantly higher rates of technology-facilitated abuse.

"We know for some of those groups that there's a really tainted history with the police," Prof Flynn said.

"So it can be difficult for them to report the abuse or reach out for support."

One in four Australians also admitted being perpetrators of technology-facilitated abuse.

More than 40 per cent of perpetrators were aged between 25 to 34, and one in six reported believing the abusive behaviour was funny.

"Many of them weren't even aware that what they were doing was illegal or that it could cause the types of harm that it did," Prof Flynn said.

"They were motivated by being angry at a break-up or wanting to control the victim in that particular moment."

Victim-survivors reported feeling anxious or depressed and becoming hypervigilant as a result of the abuse.

They also turned away from technology and online sites, the report found, which left them more and more isolated.

The community and service providers needed more education so they could better understand what technology-facilitated abuse was and the harm it could cause, ANROWS chief executive Padma Raman said.

"Technology can have unintended consequences," Ms Raman told AAP. "It is not just a device that is enabling ease of life.

"We need to be educating people on looking for those behaviours and also to think about it when designing systems and platforms.

"They need to have a sense that this could be used by someone who wants to harass, intimidate, humiliate or abuse a partner or former partner."

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