Networked individuals, gendered violence: A literature review of cyberviolence

Backe, E. L., Lilleston, P., & McCleary-Sills, J. (2018). Networked Individuals, Gendered Violence: A Literature Review of Cyberviolence. Violence and Gender, 5(3), 135–146.


Open access: No

Notes: This article presents a useful and succinct literature review of the term cyberviolence—especially around gendered violence. Overall, this review showcases the wide range of terms used to discuss the term. More importantly, however, it also illustrates how much research on this topic comes from developed countries. Indeed, other geographical areas, such as Latin America are not very present in the ongoing scholarship around cyberviolence.

Abstract: The growth of information and communication technologies (ICT) and social networking sites (SNS) has generated new opportunities for violence, particularly aimed at women, girls, and sexual and gender minorities. The types of abuse that can occur on and through ICT and SNS represent the phenomenon of cyberviolence, including, but not limited to, cyberbullying, online harassment, cyber dating abuse, revenge porn, and cyberstalking. The authors undertook a literature review with the following aims: (1) evaluate how cyberviolence has been broadly conceived and studied in the scientific literature, and (2) assess the state of primary research in the cyberviolence field, identify gaps, and provide directions for future research. A search of peer-reviewed literature on cyberviolence published between 2006 and 2016 was conducted in May and June of 2016 through Academic Search Complete, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science. These were read, prioritized, and analyzed against inclusion criteria. Where applicable, gray literature was also incorporated to supplement any gaps in the scientific literature. The results indicate a lack of consistent, standard definitions or methodologies used to conceptualize and measure cyberviolence. Most of the literature focuses on cyberbullying among heterosexual adolescents in high-income countries. Demographic data on perpetrators are limited, prevalence estimates are inconsistent, and almost no primary research has been conducted in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Cyberviolence is not only associated with negative psychological, social, and reproductive health outcomes but also it is linked with offline violence, disproportionately affecting women, girls, and sexual and gender minorities. There is an urgent need to develop a uniform set of tools to examine cyberviolence internationally. Future research should explore the gendered dimensions of cyberviolence and the continuum between online and offline violence, including in LMIC.

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