Technology abuse and reporting
by Christina Hays
Where would we be without technology? It has created jobs, comfort, and success. We send people into outer space, we track deadly storms, and we connect with individuals from across the globe. What happens when the technologies that we are so accustomed to and comfortable using get turned against us?
Every day people are stalked, manipulated and violated by abusers with technology. Abusers gain access to private messages, emails and even phone calls. Then they use the information learned to belittle, manipulate and control their victims.
Technology safety planning is crucial when working with victims of domestic violence. Physical violence can be stopped when they get out of the relationship, but the emotional and mental abuse of online stalking follows them. Ensuring that location is kept off all devices, that you are never tagged in a location, and that you frequently check for any apps that you did not download are just a few ways to think about safely using electronic devices. Sometimes it helps to simply deactivate accounts or change passwords every 30 days.
Even when victims of domestic violence escape physical violence and are being safe using technology there are still ways that abusers find to get to them. Abusers make new social media accounts to send messages to victims, victims’ families and victims’ friends. They use Text Now apps and Wi-Fi calling to send text messages and leave voicemails. With every defense in place it seems like abusers are always one step ahead. Finding ways to document digital abuse and report it can be a way to make this unwanted contact stop.
The following tips come from the Safety Net Project of the National Network to End Domestic Violence:
1. Keep a written log of events. Write down the date, time, location, suspected technology involved and a brief description of what happened. Note any witnesses.
2. Save everything that is relevant to the behavior, but do not save all items in the same way or place. Things to save include: physical notes, emails, texts, phone calls, voice messages and social media contact. Consider making copies and asking trusted people to hold on to them.
3. Save emails in the original email account. If you are concerned that the emails might be deleted, print them or screenshot them with the header information included (header provides IP address).
4. Take a screenshot or photograph of text messages, and also take a screenshot or photograph of the contact page to show the phone number that is associated with the name shown on the message.
5. Screenshot harassment or abuse on social media websites.
6. Print out or screenshot your telephone call logs. Record voice mails, and check on your state’s law about recording telephone conversations. (Some states require the other party to know that they are being recorded).
For more information on how to gather evidence of technology abuse to use in court please visit the following websites:
ttps://nnedv.org/content/safety-net/ or www.rcdvcpc.org. Both websites have information on how to gather evidence in a form allowed by court. This evidence can help victims file charges or back up a petition for protection from abuse. If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation and needs help getting safe please contact Crisis Services of North Alabama locally at 256-574-5826 or at our 24/7 HELPline at 256-716-1000. No one has to go through this alone.