Help-Seeking From Websites and Police in the Aftermath of Technology-Facilitated Victimization.

Academic Article


  • This study looked at experiences of help-seeking from websites and police following an episode of technology-facilitated abuse. It used data from a nationally representative online panel of adults aged 18 to 28, sampled from Ipsos Knowledge Panel. A total of 1,952 unique victimization episodes from childhood and adulthood were identified and used in analyses. Participants were asked about whether they experienced 11 different types of technology-facilitated abuse (TFA), whether the incident was reported to the website or police, barriers to reporting, and features of the website's or law enforcement's response. Other follow-up information included victim gender, age, relationship to the perpetrator, and negative emotional impact (NEI) associated with the incident. Results found very low rates of reporting to both websites (7.3%) and law enforcement (4.8%). Image-based offenses had higher rates of reporting. A greater NEI significantly increased the odds of reporting to each source. Participants were largely unsatisfied with response from websites and police. Only 42.2% said the website did something helpful and only 29.8% found police helpful. Our findings suggest a need for major improvements in how websites and law enforcement respond to victims of technology-facilitated offenses. They need to have more helpful information and more ways of offering support. Websites need more specifics about the types of violations that warrant reporting, clearer signposts, and encouragement about how to get help and a better publicized commitment to a rapid and serious review. Law enforcement needs more education and training to avoid dismissive and judgmental reactions and to ensure sympathetic and respectful responses.
  • Authors

  • Colburn, Deirdre A
  • Finkelhor, David
  • Turner, Heather
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 2023
  • Keywords

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Crime Victims
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Law Enforcement
  • Police
  • disclosure
  • help-seeking
  • online victimization
  • technology-facilitated abuse
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 37458155
  • Start Page

  • 11642
  • End Page

  • 11665
  • Volume

  • 38
  • Issue

  • 21-22