The new Panopticon: Women’s experiences of mobile phone- mediated coercive control within abusive relationships

Book chapter


Havard, T. and Lefevre, M. (2022). The new Panopticon: Women’s experiences of mobile phone- mediated coercive control within abusive relationships. in: Technology and Domestic and Family Violence: Victimisation, Perpetration and Responses Routledge. pp. 90-102
AuthorsHavard, T. and Lefevre, M.
Abstract

The prevalence of domestic abuse worldwide has long been described as a pandemic (Fawcett Society, 2018), but COVID-19 lockdown saw an international surge with the United Nations Secretary General Antionio Guterrest urging all governments to put women’s safety first when they respond to the pandemic. Simultaneously, there has been unprecedented dependence on technology at a time when mobile phone ownership surpassed the six billion mark (Statista, 2020). The part technology plays in the abuse of others, especially within domestic abuse and coercive control, is gaining increasing attention (Douglas et al., 2019; Dragiewicz et al., 2018; Harris & Woodlock, 2019; Woodlock et al., 2019). However, understanding is still relatively limited regarding how mobile phones enable what we have termed ‘agile technological surveillance’ (Havard & Lefevre, 2020). By this, we mean how the mobile phone’s diverse capabilities and portability can enable an abuser to track and monitor their partner in various ways ‘on the go’ and irrespective of physical proximity, facilitating a new kind of intimate invasion and control. This process requires further theorising if professionals are to understand its impact on survivors and be able to assess risk effectively.

This chapter seeks to address this gap in the literature through considering the experiences of twelve women in the United Kingdom whose mobile phones had been co-opted by their male partners during their coercive control and domestic abuse. Their stories were gathered during a qualitative doctoral study by the first author. We draw on Foucault’s concept of docile bodies and use of Bentham’s Panopticon as lenses to understand the insidious effect of the surveillance and how it caused the women to think, feel and behave differently.

Keywordstech abuse, coercive control
Page range90-102
Year2022
Book titleTechnology and Domestic and Family Violence: Victimisation, Perpetration and Responses
PublisherRoutledge
File
License
File Access Level
Open
ISBN9780367521431
Publication dates
Print30 Dec 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted15 Oct 2021
Deposited02 Dec 2022
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/924y1

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