Technology-facilitated stalking and abuse is the use of technology (such as the internet, social media, mobile phones, computers, and surveillance devices) to stalk and perpetrate abuse on a person.
Such behaviour includes:
- Making numerous and unwanted calls to a person’s mobile phone
- Sending threatening and/or abusive messages (text messaging, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook messaging, Twitter)
- Hacking into a person’s email or social media account to discover information about them
- Hacking into a person’s email or social media account to impersonate them and send abusive messages to family/friends of that person
- Using surveillance devices to spy on a person
- Using tracking devices to follow a person
- Sharing, or threatening to share, intimate pictures of a person
The following legal guides look at four primary areas of law relevant to people experiencing technology-facilitated stalking and abuse.
Legal Guide to Relevant Criminal Offences in VIC
This guide looks at the various criminal offences that may apply to a person who is perpetrating technology-facilitated stalking and abuse.
Legal Guide to Surveillance Legislation in VIC
This guide looks at what the law says about surveillance devices – when it is an offence to use them and what the restrictions are on sharing information/videos/pictures obtained through the use of surveillance devices.
Legal Guide to Family Violence Intervention Orders in VIC
This guide looks at how people can obtain protection orders from the court to protect them from technology-facilitated stalking and abuse. In Victoria these protection orders are called Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIOs).
Legal Guide to Image-Based Abuse Legislation in VIC
This guide looks at what the law says about image-based abuse – when it is an offence to record or distribute intimate images and what legal options exist for victims of image-based abuse.
DISCLAIMER: The use of technology-facilitated abuse is a developing area of the law. The legal information, examples and scenarios contained in the guide are intended to explain the law as it stands at publication in general terms only and are not legal advice. They cannot be relied upon or applied by readers in their own cases. Each set of circumstances needs to be looked at individually. You should seek legal advice about your own particular circumstances.
‘Victim’ vs ‘Survivor’
Some women who are experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic violence use the term ‘victim’ of domestic violence to describe themselves. Others believe the term ‘survivor’ of domestic violence more accurately reflects their experience.
Whilst acknowledging that each woman’s experience is unique and individual to her circumstances, for consistency, these guides will refer to women who are experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic violence as ‘victim-survivors’ of domestic violence.
While domestic violence can happen in many circumstances, in the vast majority of reported domestic violence cases men are the people perpetrating the abuse and women are the victim-survivors. For this reason these guides use ‘he’ to refer to perpetrators and ‘she’ to refer to victims. This is not intended to exclude other situations.
Criminal Offence (or offence)
A criminal offence is an offence against the State. It is commonly referred to as ‘breaking the law’.
Less serious offences (such as parking violations), are known as summary offences. Summary offences normally have a maximum penalty of no more than 12 months imprisonment or are not punishable by imprisonment at all.
Indictable (serious) offence
More serious offences (such as murder, manslaughter, sexual assault) are known as indictable offences. Indictable offences are punishable by imprisonment exceeding 12 months.
When a person is charged with an offence, it means that the police have formally accused that person of committing an offence.
When a person is convicted of an offence, it means that person has either pleaded guilty to committing the offence, or a court has found that person guilty of committing the offence.
Criminal legislation usually describes the amount payable for a fine in a “penalty unit”. Penalty units are used instead of dollar amounts because the rate for penalty units is indexed for inflation and may change from time to time. The Department of Treasury and Finance set the dollar amount for one penalty unit; this value is updated on 1 July each year. As of July 2021, one penalty unit = $181.74.