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How to Document Technology Misuse by Your Partner

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Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored, and it is impossible to completely clear your internet browser history. If you are afraid your computer use is being monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 en Español.

Does your partner use technology to keep tabs on you? Perhaps even to 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 such behavior.

Keep in Mind:

  • If you are using a shared computer at home, or believe someone is monitoring your internet use, consider viewing this information from a public setting such as a public library or internet cafe.
  • It is also a good idea to exit from this website and delete it from your browser history after viewing this material.
  • This guide offers tips on how to clear your browser and be safe online.

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, so that you and a victim advocate can develop a safety plan that reduces your risk of harm. Documentation can also serve as an important record of evidence in the event 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 questions, you can work with a domestic abuse victim advocate.

  • Keep a written log of events. Write down the date, time, location, suspected technology involved (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, check out the 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 other electronic device with them.
  • Save everything that is relevant to the abusive behavior, but do not save all items in the same way or same place. Things to save include physical notes, emails, texts, phone calls, voice messages and social media contacts. 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 take a screenshot of 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 take a 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.
  • Take a screenshot of harassment or abuse on social media websites. Some sites, including Facebook, have a feature to download specific information.
  • Print out or make a screenshot of your telephone call logs. Record voicemails, and check your state’s laws with regard to recording telephone conversations.

This guide on How to Gather Technology Abuse Evidence for Court, issued by the Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Child Protection and Custody, may also be helpful (but the inclusion of this resource does not imply DOD endorsement of the resource center).

The misuse of technology by your partner is just one form of abuse. Mobilize help for intimate partner abuse, both online and offline, 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.

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Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, visit the 24/7 Family Advocacy Program Victim Advocate Locator or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800−799−7233.