About

Few would deny that technologies have dramatically changed how we communicate and interact with one another. From devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and personal computers, to online services such as social networking sites, personal blogs, video-posting websites and virtual worlds - the use of these technologies has rapidly expanded, enabling greater connectivity and new forms of social interaction. At the same time the increasing uptake of such communications technologies has been matched by their use as tools to spread hate, abuse and violence – including sexual violence, hate speech and harassment.

Our research is concerned with the experiences, impacts and societal responses to various forms of technology-facilitated sexual violence and harassment. This is part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded Discovery Project and the researchers are based at RMIT University and La Trobe University. Drawing on several sources including interviews with expert stakeholders, interviews with individuals who have experienced sexual harassment or abuse, and an online survey of women’s and men’s experiences with technology – we hope to develop both a better understanding and better responses to this important issue.

Participate

We'd like to hear about your experiences.

If you're aged 18 years or over, we'd like to hear about your experiences of any sexually abusive comments, behaviours or harassment that's happened online whether by mobile phone, on the web or via other online devices.

We are interested in your experiences of any of the following kinds of behaviours, perpetrated by someone either known to you (e.g. a partner, ex-partner, potential partner, friend, family member or acquaintance), or not known to you (e.g. a stranger):

- any unwanted or inappropriate sexual comments, statements, or threats through social media, websites, online forums and/or online gaming;

- any repeated and unwanted sexual statements or requests made through mobile phones, email or social media;

- someone has sent you unwanted sexually explicit material;

- someone has taken, sent-on, posted online, or threatened to distribute an intimate or sexual image/video of you without your permission (even if you consented to the image being taken in the first place);

- you have met someone online who has then engaged in abusive or unwelcome behaviour;

- a partner or ex-partner has used mobile or online technologies to harass you, send abusive content, or otherwise caused you to be fearful;

- any other unwelcome sexual contact where technology has somehow been used.

What you'll be asked to do

We are currently conducting in-person interviews in a central Melbourne (Australia) location. These interviews will take about an hour, depending on how much you want to say about your experiences. As an acknowledgement of your time taken to attend an interview, we are offering a $50 retail voucher to in-person interview participants. If you'd like to find out more, please email Anastasia and Nicola at research@techandme.com.au or text us at 0423 645 644 with your name and preferred email or phone contact details.

Alternately, if you live outside of Melbourne you can take part in either a telephone interview (at a time and number you choose, just email or text us the details), or an online interview (by completing an anonymous online form) – the choice is yours. Interviews should take about 30 minutes, depending on how much you want to say, and will be strictly confidential.

Before you agree to participate, please read the complete information statement.

How to get involved

If you'd like to participate or would like further information please contact the researchers Anastasia and Nicola at research@techandme.com.au or text us at 0423 645 644 with your name and preferred email or phone contact details.

Get Help

Within Australia

If you’re concerned about the unwanted, threatening or harassing behaviors of others via mobile phone, email and/or social networking sites, you can get advice on your rights, the law in Australia, and what you can do here: http://smartsafe.org.au/

If it is a partner or ex-partner who is harassing you, there is help and support available both to protect yourself online: http://www.dvrcv.org.au/help-advice/technology-safety-planning/ and to get advice on what to do next: https://www.1800respect.org.au/

Online harassment when its by someone known to you, can sometimes escalate to violence or abuse. If you’re concerned about your safety, please report to police by calling ‘000’. For more information about what making a police report might involve, click here: http://www.victimsofcrime.vic.gov.au/home/a+crime+is+committed/how+to+report+a+crime/

If you’re concerned about your own behavior towards another person, and whether you might be crossing a line, you can seek confidential advice and support here http://mrs.org.au/ (for men) or here http://www.wire.org.au/ (for women).

You can also report individuals, behavior or content online that you are concerned might be linked to the sexual abuse of children or teens, by completing this report form with the Australian Federal Police: https://forms.afp.gov.au/online_forms/ocset_form

International Links

The Good Men Project

End Revenge Porn

Take Back the Tech

The Everyday Sexism Project

Project Unbreakable

Discover More

What is Technology Facilitated Sexual Violence and Harassment?

Women and men can both experience positive and negative social encounters when using technology, whether via email, mobile phone or online. These behaviours can include verbal abuse, harassment and hate speech, as well as threats and antagonistic abuse (such as trolling). Rather than being a cause of these behaviours, technology has become a tool used to further the harm of various forms of harassment and abuse. Sexually-based violence and harassment is no different. Communication technologies have become a medium for some people to engage in sexual violence, from facilitating sexual assaults and harassing victims, through to online threats and cyberstalking, and the misuse of sexual images in ways that harm and humiliate victims. At Tech and Me we're trying to better understand how communications technologies are being used to engage in sexually based violence and harassment.
Hate Speech

Gender Based Hate Speech

Hate speech refers to vilification that is directed at someone because of a characteristic such as Ethnicity, Race, Religion, Sexual Identity, Disability and/or Gender. Gender based hate speech occurs when this vilification is directed at men or women generally as a social group, and which targets multiple individuals directly on the basis of their gender. Online gender-based hate speech occurs in online spaces and communities and, like other forms of sexually-based violence, is most often directed at women. For example, it might include pro-rape Facebook pages, rape jokes, and sexist memes, or posting commentary and images that promote or minimise violence against women.
Revenge Porn

Sexual Imagery without Consent

This refers to images of a sexual nature that have been either created or sent on to other people without the consent of the person in the image. Sometimes the victim is completely unaware that the image has been taken, or in other circumstances, the victim has consented to the creation of the original image but has not consented to the further publication and distribution of the image (as in some 'sexting' cases). In some instances, the personal details of victims, including their name, age and residential address, are made posted publicly (also referred to in the media as 'revenge porn'), as a way of further humiliating and shaming the person.
Woman Computer Abuse

Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is a type of conventional stalking, however, cyberstalking uses a technology to inflict repeated acts that cause a person fear or distress. This can include using email, mobile phone or social networking sites to send repeated unwanted and/or threatening messages to a person, to keep track of a person's whereabouts, to monitor a person's communications, to publicly post false or private information about a person, or otherwise intimidate or harass a person.
Online Harassment

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual behaviour and includes unwanted sexual advances, sexual requests, intrusive sexual questions, as well as sexual comments or jokes. Examples of online sexual harassment include all these behaviours (such as via email, mobile messages, social networking sites, in online forums, games or communities), as well as targeted sexually-based ‘flaming’, and intentionally emailing or posting erotic, pornographic or sexually violent images and video. Sexual harassment online can have the impact of isolating victims from some online activities and communities, as well as causing specific distress to individuals who are targeted.