Toward the Adaptation of Routine Activity and Lifestyle Exposure Theories to Account for Cyber Abuse Victimization

Zarina I. Vakhitova, Danielle M. Reynald, Michael Townsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


With the advent of the Internet and the emergence of cybercrimes (e.g., cyber stalking, cyber harassment), criminologists have begun to explore the empirical utility of lifestyle exposure and routine activity theories (RATs) to account for personal victimization as a consequence of cyber abuse. Available cyber abuse studies have produced inconsistent empirical support for both models, which has reignited the debate about whether terrestrial theories, such as RAT, will ever be able to adequately explain cybercrimes due to the spatial and temporal disconnect between the theories and the cyber environment. This article reviews existing cyber abuse scholarship, explores potential reasons for the weak empirical support for routine activity and lifestyle exposure theories in cyberspace, and proposes several directions for future research. We suggest that to further our understanding of cyber abuse processes, scholars need to carefully define and operationalize the key theoretical concepts in the light of latest developments in RAT (i.e., addition of new controllers—handlers and place managers, and super controllers), and conduct in-depth qualitative studies, as well as quantitative studies, that employ robust methodological designs and multi-level statistical analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-188
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • capable guardianship
  • controllers
  • cyber abuse
  • cyber harassment
  • cyber stalking
  • lifestyle exposure theory
  • routine activity theory
  • super controllers

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