An evidence synthesis of covert online strategies regarding intimate partner violence

Aikaterini Grimani, Anna Gavine, Wendy Moncur

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This systematic review synthesises evidence of how people use the internet to deploy covert strategies around escaping from, or perpetrating, Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Online tools and services can facilitate individuals leaving abusive relationships, yet they can also act as a barrier to departure. They may also enable abusive behaviours. A comprehensive literature search of published and unpublished studies in electronic databases was conducted. Two researchers independently screened abstracts and full-texts for study eligibility and evaluated the quality of included studies. The systematic review includes 22 studies (9 qualitative and 11 cross-sectional studies, a Randomized control trial and a Non-randomized study), published between 2004 and 2017. Four covert behaviours linked to covert online strategies around IPV were identified: presence online, granular control, use of digital support tools and services, stalking and surveillance. The same technology that provides individuals with easy access to information and supportive services related to IPV, such as digital devices, tools and services, also enables perpetrators to monitor or harass their partners. This review takes a rigorous interdisciplinary approach to synthesising knowledge on the covert strategies adopted by people in relation to IPV. It has particular relevance to practitioners who support survivors in increasing awareness of the role of digital technologies in IPV, to law enforcement agencies in identifying new forms of evidence of abuse, and in enabling designers of online/social media applications to take the needs and vulnerabilities of IPV survivors into account.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalTrauma, Violence, & Abuse
Early online date15 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Sep 2020


  • intimate partner violence
  • covert behaviours
  • social networking sites
  • digital technologies
  • interpersonal electronic surveillance


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  • Keeping Secrets Online

    Moncur, W.

    Project: Projects from Previous Employment

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