The double-edged sword – abused women’s experiences of digital technology
Det Tveeggade Svärdet – Teknologins Betydelse för Kvinnor som Utsätts för Våld i Nära Relation
Summary, in English
Technology has become a vital part of people’s lives. Mobile phones, smart phones, social media platforms, apps and other internet-connected devices and software have changed our way of interacting with each other, as well as managing everyday tasks. In this article, the use of such technology is discussed in relation to its integration in the lives of women who are victims of domestic violence. The study is based on interviews with 21 Swedish women, all abused by their former husband or boyfriend. The empirical data demonstrates how technology is used by the perpetrators as a means of coercive control. The analysis shows that the accessibility of digital media enables the abuser to be constantly present in the woman’s life, even after she has left him. However, the same technology is also important to the women, enabling them to manage victimisation, monitor the perpetrators, store evidence, obtain information, gain support and keep in touch with family and friends. This article reveals the use of technology in IPV as a ‘double-edged sword’; providing the capacity to protect and even to use as a ‘counter-strike’ by victims, as well as enhancing perpetrators’ capacity to harm.