Digital coercive control: A study of women’s experiences of help-seeking in metropolitan and regional Victoria

Ms Jess Woolley1

1Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

Technology-facilitated domestic and family violence, also referred to as digital coercive control (DCC), involves the use of devices and technology to enact stalking, harassment and abuse towards partners, ex-partners and children. Behaviours that may constitute DCC include image-based abuse, online harassment, and surveillance of victim-survivors through social media, tracking devices and CCTV (Dragiewicz et al., 2018). DCC has been identified as a growing problem across Australia, as perpetrators are increasingly using technology as a means to further abusive behaviours.

Drawing from interviews with seven domestic and family violence (DFV) practitioners and two scholarly experts, this paper presents findings from a project that explored the help-seeking experiences of victim-survivors of DCC, and how geography might impact their help-seeking behaviours. This paper presents three main findings, including that: the use of technology has normalised actions which may assist in the eventual perpetration of DCC; community dynamics in urban and non-urban areas may impact women’s help-seeking experiences; and there are various barriers to training and educating DFV practitioners about DCC across urban and non-urban settings.


Jess Woolley is an Honours student in Criminology at Deakin University. Her Honours thesis has examined digital coercive control, and victim-survivors’ help-seeking across metropolitan and regional Victoria. Jess’ research is being supervised by Dr Mary Iliadis, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University. In 2020, Jess completed her Bachelor of Arts (Criminology and Journalism) and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at Monash University. Jess has lived in Australia and New Zealand, and has a keen interest in cross-jurisdictional analysis, social change and advocacy. Jess intends on extending the focus of her research through a PhD.


Dec 08 2021