Technology-Facilitated Domestic Abuse: An under-recognised safeguarding issue?

This blog was written by Katy Brookfield, a Postgraduate Researcher at the University of Nottingham. This blog is based on a paper published in The British Journal of Social Work by Katy Brookfield, Rachel Fyson and Murray Goulden from the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham. The paper is titled ‘Technology-Facilitated Domestic Abuse: An under-Recognised Safeguarding Issue?

What is technology-facilitated domestic abuse?

Technology-facilitated domestic abuse is an area of growing concern, with cases rapidly increasing over recent years. This form of abuse allows perpetrators to enact old harms in new ways, by misusing everyday items of technology to cause harm to intimate partners or family members. Examples include (but are not limited to) compromising a partner’s mobile phone to monitor and control who they talk to, using mobile phone apps or devices to track a partner’s location, and using surveillance technologies to virtually ‘lock’ people in the house.

Technology-facilitated abuse and safeguarding 

Drawing on international literature, this paper explores the many ways those who perpetrate domestic abuse can utilise technology to monitor their partner’s online activity, track their location, and damage their personal relationships. The dangers of the ‘smart home’ are also discussed, including potential risks to social workers who could find home visits being remotely recorded.

Whilst the information presented is applicable to various demographics, the paper considers how specific groups that social workers may come into contact with are impacted by technology-facilitated domestic abuse. This includes those with insecure immigration status or who are at risk of so-called ‘honour’ based abuse, those with learning disabilities, and children and young people.

Finally, the paper highlights the limitations of the ‘Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment and Honour-Based Violence’ (DASH) risk assessment tool for assessing the presence of technology-facilitated domestic abuse. Suggestions are made for topics of conversation which social workers may wish to incorporate into their assessments, however it is ultimately acknowledged that specialist technical support is needed by front-line professionals. We recommended that the DASH is updated to reflect modern risks, and that local authorities implement specialist teams who can advise on technology-facilitated domestic abuse cases, as well as broader child and adult safeguarding concerns involving digital elements.

Read more

The full paper is free to read and can be accessed by following this link: Technology-Facilitated Domestic Abuse: An under-Recognised Safeguarding Issue? | The British Journal of Social Work | Oxford Academic (