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Type: Thesis
Title: For better or worse: When technology intersects with domestic violence and the lived experiences of Chinese immigrant women
Authors: Louie, Yee Man
Institutional author: Louie, Yee Man
Keywords: Digital technologies and DV intervention
ANRA Topic: Drivers of violence against women
Technology-facilitated abuse
Primary prevention
ANRA Population: Culturally and linguistically diverse communities
Categories: ANROWS Completed Register of Active Research projects
Understanding victimisation and perpetration, and their impacts
Year: 2021
Publisher: RMIT University
Abstract:  The mass adoption of digital technology in people's lives has changed and continues to change the fabric of society, including the age-old social issue of domestic violence (DV). Emerging research on technology-facilitated abuse within the context of DV and technology-based DV interventions shows the potential of digital technology in supporting and empowering victim-survivors. On the other hand, perpetrators of DV increasingly exploit the affordances of digital technology to control, harass, hack and track their intimate (ex-)partners. In this thesis, I refer to this form of domestic abuse as technology-facilitated domestic abuse (TFDA). Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds have been identified as more vulnerable to TFDA. However, little scholarship on TFDA has focused on CALD women's lived experiences, much less on their engagement with digital technology for seeking safety, advice and support.

Drawing on a two-staged qualitative research study with 13 frontline DV practitioners and nine Chinese women DV victim-survivors, this thesis study addresses this research gap by considering the intersection of digital technology, DV and CALD women, primarily through a specific case study of immigrant Chinese women living in Melbourne, Victoria. This thesis further explores the nuanced ways in which these Chinese women victim-survivors' social location played out in their digital engagement pre- and post-DV relationships.

My research confirms that textual, verbal and visual digital interpersonal communication has enabled DV to manifest from offline to online, potentially all-encompassing within victim-survivors' private and public domains. Although CALD DV victim-survivors share similar experiences of TFDA with other Australian women victim-survivors, CALD women's social location intersect with their lived experiences to further marginalise them and impact on their response to and recovery from DV. The majority of the Chinese women DV victim-survivors in my study did not articulate abuses facilitated by technology as part of their DV experiences. The women also relied on themselves or their friends and family to deal with their DV situations. The reluctance to seek help from support services and the lack of awareness of TFDA of this group of women are likely to have stemmed from their perceptions that DV is a private matter and that non-physical violence is less severe.

Regardless of the type of domestic abuse experienced by this group of Chinese women, digital technologies played an essential role in assisting them to cope and recover, with smartphones the most used technology-based response. Many would extend their everyday smartphone use to rely on location technology for safety, cameras for recording evidence or online communities for advice and support. Although, in general, the women's digital communication engagement was primarily around interpersonal communication, entertainment or work-related, such mundane engagement brought a sense of life enhancement, social support and safety during their recovery journey.

The women in my study were not aware of DV apps and many had not sought online support from DV service providers. Although practitioners and women alike were appreciative of the innovation of technology-based response, they all expressed the value of face-to-face support when it concerns CALD women. There is a strong need to bridge the knowledge gap on TFDA and technology-based response among CALD communities. Additional research is greatly needed to explore the full potential of utilising digital technologies to assist support services in their efforts to ameliorate DV. Future efforts for DV prevention and intervention, including the deployment of technology-based response, need to consider CALD women's socio-cultural backgrounds and migration experiences, and their engagement with digital technologies. Collaboration with members from CALD communities including women with lived experiences should be essential and not an add-on.

This case study of one gender and one ethnic minority group contributes to the knowledge of TFDA and its impact on a marginalised and understudied group of CALD women DV victim-survivors. Although limited in its generalisability, this first study of TFDA and Chinese immigrant women lays some of the groundwork for future research into the lived experiences of migrant and refugee women.
Appears in Collections:ANROWS Completed Register of Active Research projects
ANROWS Notepad 2022

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