Perpetrator perceptions on the emotions and motivations driving technology-facilitated abuse in relationships: a story completion study

Renee Fiolet, Cynthia Brown, Dana McKay, Sally Marsden, Kobi Leins, Bridget A. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Technology-facilitated abuse in relationships (TAR) is a widespread social problem that has a significant impact on victim-survivors. Most contemporary evidence on TAR focuses on victim-survivor and practitioner perspectives rather than those of perpetrators who choose to enact this form of harm. Addressing this deficit, this study explored perpetrators’ discourses on emotions and motivations associated with engaging in TAR. Using story completion method, 35 self-identified perpetrators of TAR completed story stems describing scenarios that may precede the use of abusive online behaviors. Reflexive thematic analysis generated three themes. Abusive behaviors and negative emotions speaks to maladaptive experiences of anger and/or sadness that can precede a decision to use TAR. A loss of trust, a desire for control describes potential motives for using TAR. Finally, inhibitors of abusive behavior investigates rationales perpetrators use for avoidance of TAR behaviors, suggesting avenues for working with perpetrators to refrain from using TAR. We conclude by discussing policy, practice, and research recommendations including strategies for technology designers and suggestions for primary prevention and response to TAR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11999-12024
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number23-24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • abusive behaviors
  • control
  • perpetrators
  • relationships
  • technology-facilitated abuse

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