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"You may trod me in the very dirt but still, like dust, I'll rise." -Maya Angelou
Victim Awareness of Technology

With today's technology available to all of us, sometimes we forget how much of our personal information is out there. I point this out not to make us paranoid but to just simply make us aware; we should chose carefully what we allow others to know. If you are currently in an abusive situation, there are things you need to know about the technology you use and how an abuser can use this to track you.

 Home PC (computer): There are many new devices that can be purchased at a very low cost and can be installed on your computer. It can take as little as five minutes on your computer in-person or they can be installed via "remote access" using another computer and internet. These devices can monitor your keystrokes so that your abuser knows your passwords, can give them a printout of your emails, or create a printout of all the websites you view. So if you are looking on internet for shelters out of the area or even a domestic/sexual assault agency in your area the abuser will see that. If you are contacting a family member or friend and telling them your situation by email they can access that information. The abuser could also access your bank accounts if you do online banking.

 Phone: Cell phones can be used as GPS devices. If you have a joint account your abuser can access the account and put a monitoring application on the account. If you use a smart phone/blackberry, they can download an application that will give their phone all the information that you've accessed on your phone (numbers, emails, account information, etc.). They can purchase a card that can disguise the name and number that they are calling from. They can make it appear to be one that you know and trust as someone who would contact you. They can even download a tracking application to your phone via their phone. Some abusers will purchase a TracPhone or prepaid phone and place it in your vehicle. As long as it is on, it will act as a GPS device in your car.

 Don't underestimate the knowledge that abusers have. Even if you feel they are not computer or cell phone savvy, there are so many internet websites that give simple instructions and lead them through the installations.  For instance, buddyway.com is an easy, free service. howtodothings.com is a service that isn't free, but if they are really serious they might be willing to pay the fees. Most of these are for "cheating spouses," but abusers have learned to use this to monitor their victims.

 Ways to protect yourself 

Computer: on your home computer you can install software that detects spyware and other devices installed on your computer. Search online for free services that will help you with this. Look for cords that have that have more than one plug. Your power cord should be plugged directly into your computer. When you are e-mailing do not give any specifics as to what your plans are. Make e-mails about random and generic conversations.  If you feel that your computer is being tapped into, you should contact a PC specialist.

 Cell phone: consider getting a phone plan in another name. Change your number, and only let those you know have that new number. No one that is connected to your abuser should have access to your number. That way, your abuser will have as little access to your name and new number as possible. Turn off the GPS on your phone. Only allow it to be used for 911. If you don't know how to do this, have your phone representative show you. If you have to call someone or an agency about your safety plan or other issues, use a landline phone or a pay phone. If you feel that you have been followed, take your car to a mechanic and have them look for devices such as a GPS or a cell phone attached under your car frame or under your hood. Also look in your glove compartment, trunk, hubcaps, and bumpers.

 If you feel that any of this is going on, or that your abuser is stalking you in any way, contact law enforcement. Keep a log of events on a piece of paper including date, time, location, and a description of the activity. This will give law enforcement enough information to use for your case. Activities can include but are not limited to: text messages, phone calls/voicemails, e-mails, Facebook contact, hang-up calls, in person contact, etc. 

If you have any questions or need help with any situation please contact SA/DVC and talk to an advocate or call your local law enforcement. 


 
 

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