‘You Can’t Actually Escape It’: Policing the Use of Technology in Domestic Violence in Rural Australia


The abuse of technology by perpetrators of domestic violence is ‘spaceless’; however, in this article, we argue that experiences of and responses to digital coercive control are shaped by both the place (geographic location) and space (practical and ideological features of a location) that a victim/survivor and criminal justice agency occupy. We examined this issue by conducting interviews and focus groups with 13 female victim/survivors in regional, rural and remote Australia. All participants had contact with police as part of their help-seeking for domestic violence, and some suggested that officers sometimes paralleled perpetrator behaviours, resulting in a narrowing of women’s ‘space for action’. We conclude that, in the interests of protecting and empowering women, socio-spatial frameworks must be considered by practitioners and researchers, and there should be a concerted effort to expand resourcing and training for justice agencies beyond the cityscape.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2022-03-01
Pages:135 to 148
Section:Part 1: Digital (in)Justices
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How to Cite
Harris, B. . and Woodlock , D. . (2022) “‘You Can’t Actually Escape It’: Policing the Use of Technology in Domestic Violence in Rural Australia”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(1), pp. 135-148. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2190.

Author Biographies

Monash University

Dr Bridget Harris is an Associate Professor of Criminology and Deputy Director of the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University (Victoria, Australia) and Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow. Bridget conducts research on domestic and family violence, technology-facilitated / digital coercive control, violence against women, technology-facilitated responses to violence, violence and spatiality, violence against women and rural domestic and family violence.

University of New England

Dr Delanie Woodlock has been working in the area of domestic violence and sexual assault for over 15 years, providing support to victim-survivors, as well as conducting internationally recognized research in both the community and in academia. She is an Adjunct in Criminology at the University of New England (Australia) and a Research Associate with the Research Centre on Violence at West Virginia University. Her research has focused on violence against women with disabilities, the impact of abuse on women’s trauma, the use of technology in domestic violence, and violence against women in rural and regional Australia.