YUMA, Arizona. A team of researchers for Cornell and New York University found that digital stalking is at once quite easy (it doesn’t require a high level of technological sophistication) and also devastating for some victims. According to Slate, abusive exes can stalk victims on social media, through cellphone family plans, and through sharing locations on devices. If you and your ex shared passwords or digital media accounts, it can be very difficult to divorce digitally without losing data. Furthermore, the steps that victims often need to take to avoid being digitally stalked are often steps that require victims to destroy important evidence that can help them build a strong case against an abusive ex.
So, what can you do if you suspect that you are being digitally stalked? First, consider speaking to the qualified divorce lawyers at Schneider & Onofry, P.C. in Yuma, Arizona. While you might be tempted to perform a factory reset on your phone and computer, doing this could destroy photos, abusive text messages, and other crucial data that may be needed if you are seeking custody of your children or a fair divorce settlement. Before performing a factory reset on your phone, speak to your lawyer about what kind of evidence may be required in your case. The temptation to delete your social media accounts should also be avoided. While you’ll want to avoid posting on social media during your divorce, it is important to remain connected to friends and family—and social media can help preserve those connections, according to Slate. In some cases, victims might simply want to purchase a new computer and phone while preserving evidence on old devices.
Here are some other things you may not have thought about: security questions. Most secure websites allow individuals to retrieve a password using security questions. Yet, many of these questions would be easy for a former partner to know or guess. Individuals who are leaving an abusive relationship might have to place added protections on their accounts. In some cases, victims are advised to treat security questions like new passwords, creating unique answers only they will know.
Another thing to consider is the role shared property can play in abuse. If your ex owns your phone, if you have a shared family plan, or if you co-own a car, then your ex could track your phone, have access to your data, and even put a GPS track on your car. This is why it is so important to begin the divorce process as soon as possible, and to speak to a lawyer about how you can begin disentangling your personal, digital, and financial lives.
According to NPR, when women enter domestic violence shelters, they are advised to turn off the GPS on their phones, their Wi-Fi, and are asked to avoid Facebook. According to NPR, 85% of domestic violence shelters say they have worked with victims who have been stalked using their phone’s GPS.
Abusive relationships are characterized by the need of an abuser to overpower and control the victim. While many kinds of digital stalking don’t require a high degree of sophistication, some former partners go as far as to install monitoring applications on a person’s phone. These applications can get a wealth of information from a victim, from call logs to text messages, and some can even record entire conversations. Others can track where you’re going and where you’ve been, and yet others can even block incoming calls.
If you believe your ex might be stalking you, it is important to protect yourself. First, it is essential that you begin the legal process of getting divorced. Schneider & Onofry, P.C. are divorce lawyers in Yuma, Arizona who can help you begin the process and understand your rights. If you are fearful for your safety or for the safety of your children, seek immediate help today. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and can be reached at 1-800-799-7233. Contact us today for more information.
Schneider & Onofry, P.C.
207 W. 2nd St.
Yuma, AZ 85364