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.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or text us at 0423 645 644 with your name and preferred email or phone contact details.
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