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Our laws are not adequately protecting victims of digital domestic violence

A number of the responses to our survey provided examples of ways in which offline abuse, particularly between intimate partners, extends to harassment and abuse online.

“It was my ex-partner so it was personal. But it was a concerted campaign.”

“A vindictive stalking ex partner smeared me and my children, swore at me and got others to join in”

“ An ex-boyfriend hijacked my nieces account and posted content that was damaging”.

Lawyer Ruby King notes in her paper Digital Domestic Violence: Are victims of intimate partner cyber harassment sufficiently protected by New Zealand’s current legislation?:

“Levels of domestic violence in New Zealand are staggeringly high. Intimate partner cyber harassment represents a new form of domestic violence made possible by new technology and our increasing reliance on it. Further, as technology is being used in the formation and development of relationships and personal boundaries, there is a risk that intimate partner cyber harassment will become “normalised.” Due to the complex and harmful nature of the issue, New Zealand’s legislative regime must adequately protect victims.”

She also notes that:

“The demographic most vulnerable to intimate partner cyber harassment is young females. While both intimate partner violence and cyber harassment are gender-neutral crimes, statistics clearly show that females are more likely to be victimised.”