The determinants of the utility of victims’ online routine activities as risk factors for cyber abuse: A mixed method analysis

Zarina Vakhitova1, Dr. Julianne Webster1, Dr. Danielle Reynald 1,Dr. Michael Townsley1

1Griffith University, Mt. Gravatt Campus, Brisbane 4122 QLD Australia

To date research in the empirical utility of routine activity and lifestyle exposure theories to account for cyber abuse victimization has produced mixed results. Likely explanation for inconsistent empirical support is the inadequate operationalization of key routine activity-related theoretical concepts (i.e. exposure to risk and proximity to offenders), related to the currently missing in-depth qualitative research into cyber abuse crime event, and the subsequent lack of understanding of the role of online routine activities within the causal mechanisms of cyber abuse victimization. This study addresses this gap in the research by examining the cyber abuse crime event in detail and employing mixed methods. This study employs a mixed method research design involving a series of 12 in-depth qualitative interviews with cyber abuse victims followed by a systematic quantitative content analysis of 95 computer mediated communications in the form of postings on online forums and 115 newspaper reports detailing stories of cyber abuse victimization. Our findings suggest that the offender-victim relationship plays an important role within the cyber abuse victimization mechanism. It affects offender motivation, which in turn, affects the role of victim’s online routine activities within the causal mechanism of cyber abuse victimization. We argue that the offender-victim relationship and, the related to it offender motivation must be taken into consideration when operationalizing online routine activity-related theoretical concepts and when developing crime prevention strategies designed for controlling interpersonal addressing expressed using technological means.


Zarina Vakhitova is a doctoral candidate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. Her research interests focus on crime prevention in cyberspace, environmental criminology and crime analysis. Her current work involves adaptation of criminal opportunity theories to account for cyberabuse victimisation.


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