How to Document Technology Misuse by Your Partner
Does your partner use technology to keep tabs on you? Perhaps even harass or intimidate you? That’s the misuse of technology to abuse, sometimes called digital abuse. If you or someone you know is dealing with digital abuse, it can be useful to know how to document this behavior.
Keeping track of your spouse or partner’s misuse of technology can help you identify patterns of behavior that can provide useful information for you and a victim advocate to develop a safety plan that reduces your risk of harm. Documentation can also serve as an important record of evidence if you choose to pursue an unrestricted report of domestic abuse.
How to Keep a Record of Technology Misuse
Below are key points to keep in mind when making a record of technology misuse by your spouse or partner. They were adapted from this guide by the Safety Net Project of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Inclusion of this information does not imply endorsement of the Safety Net Project by the Department of Defense. If you have any questions, you can always work with a FAP victim advocate.
- Keep a written log of events. Write down the date, time, location, suspected technology involved (e.g., phone, email, etc.), and a brief description of what happened. If there are any witnesses, note that. For an example of what this looks like, see this Technology Abuse Log. Remember to save this information in a place or format that won’t be accessible to your partner—for example, make sure to securely log out of your email account if you share a computer or device with them.
- 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 physical places where items can be kept privately as well as trusted people who could hold things for you.
- Save emails in the original email account. If you are concerned that the emails might be deleted, print or screenshot them with the header information included. The process for showing the header information will depend on your email server. An internet search for “show email header” and the name of your email type (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.) will provide directions for showing the header before you print or screenshot. The header provides the Internet Protocol address, which can identify the sender.
- 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.
- Screenshot harassment or abuse on social media websites. Some sites, such as Facebook, have a feature to download specific information.
- Print out or screenshot your telephone call logs. Record voice mails, and check on your state’s laws about recording telephone conversations.
In addition to the above tips, you may find this guide on How to Gather Technology Abuse Evidence for Court, by the Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Child Protection and Custody, helpful. Note that inclusion of this resource does not imply DoD endorsement of the Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Child Protection and Custody.
The misuse of tech by your partner is still abuse. Mobilize help for intimate partner violence, online or off, by contacting your local Family Advocacy Program. An advocate can work with you to develop a safety plan around technology. If you are concerned about your safety and need immediate support, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.