Physical harm and threats are synonymous with domestic violence, but there may also be elements of stalking if you are involved in an abusive relationship. While we rely on technology and digital devices for our everyday activities, they can also provide the means for an abuser to track a victim. NPR reported in January 2018 that digital stalking is on the rise among ex-spouses who use devices to manipulate, control, and gather evidence for divorce cases; plus, abusers may employ tracking technology to locate an individual and cause harm. If you are exiting or already left an abusive relationship, you can protect yourself by reviewing your use of certain devices and eliminating those that put you at risk. You should also consider retaining an experienced Galveston, TX domestic violence attorney who can help explain legal options for dealing with a dangerous abuser.
Cell Phone and Tablet Applications
Whether or not you are aware of it, your smart phone and tablet – and the applications you install on them – can reveal your whereabouts. You can disable GPS tracking on your mobile device, but use extra caution when posting content on social media. A photo, comment, video, or other material may include a time and location stamp. Messages you send, including texts and emails, can also reveal your actions, especially if you share a cell phone or other telecommunications account with a stalker.
Even if you disable tracking functionality on your cell phone and delete apps that may disclose your location, there are miniature GPS devices that can be placed almost anywhere, undetected. They are small enough to drop into your purse, a jacket pocket, or other clothing items. Worse, they can be installed on the vehicle you use, giving an abuser a minute-by-minute account of where you are and have been throughout the day.
This is a criminal act and it may be possible to press charges if you do spot these tiny devices on your car. However, the above-mentioned NPR article recounted the story of a woman who was powerless to take legal action against her ex-husband after he placed a miniature GPS on her vehicle. After their divorce, the couple still maintained joint ownership of the car. Because it was half his, the man had a right to track his own vehicle.
Laptops and Tablets: Some of the applications that you use on your smartphone are also accessible via your computer or laptop. These devices can reveal your location and online activities in the same way as your portable devices.
Discuss Stalking and Physical Abuse with a Galveston, TX Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you suspect that an abuser is using any device to track your location or otherwise engage in digital stalking, immediately cease use of your cell phone, tablet, computer, and any other device that could allow monitoring. Check your vehicle yourself or have a trustworthy mechanic in the Houston area look it over for foreign devices. Finally, please call 281-843-9776 or go online to reach the attorneys at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in Galveston, TX. We can tell you more about your legal options in all types of domestic violence matters, and we offer a free consultation to review your situation.